ARTICLE BY The Seed Man: WINTER AND FALL PLANTING GUIDES
Late Fall and Winter Planting Times
Let's face it. This is a big country, and all kinds of climates from coast to coast dictate widely varying planting dates for any seeds, bulbs or plants.
The parochial emphasis on the Northeast in the gardening literature and marketing habits has always frustrated (angered?) gardeners in other areas. After all, while their ground freezes solid during November and December, most Northeasterners have no idea that out on the West Coast, as far north as Seattle, freezes are rare all winter long. Moreover, for millions of gardeners in the South, it's very different. And in South Florida, at the southern tip of Texas, all over the Desert Southwest and up and down most of the California coast, there is no frost at all.
When to Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs in Fall and Beyond
While all the big bulb sellers ship daffodils, tulips and others, basically, from August through October, the actual good planting seasons for certain areas vary widely. Of course, you can't plant bulbs after your ground freezes, so this traditional season has really been dictated like lots of gardening information by the planting times in the Northeast and northern Midwest.
Here are their Best Planting Times for all US Regions:
Region Planting Time
Northeast and Rocky Mountains: Plant September until the ground freezes
Midwest, Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic Coast, and Plains States: Plant September 30 through November 30
Pacific Northwest Coast: Plant October through December 1
The South: Plant October through December 15
Gulf Coast: Plant October through December 31
California Coast: Plant Mid October through January
Fall and Winter Planting of Wildflower Seeds
Remember, nature plants wildflower seeds in the fall and winter, when ripened seeds rain down from last summer's flowers, the natural cycle is renewed. These fall-produced seeds all sprout the following spring.
Northeast, Midwest, and the Rockies: For hard winter areas, fall means a dormant planting of seeds. This means that after a killing frost, you put down your seed the same way you'd do in spring. This can be done anytime before your ground freezes. Fall planted seed is up and in bloom about two weeks earlier than the same seed planted in spring.
Frost Free Areas with hot summers: If you have no frost at all (So. Florida, extreme Southern Texas, and much of the southwest and southern California), you can plant almost all winter. In frost-free areas where the summer heat is intense (The deserts, South Florida, etc.), the annual wildflowers are best for you, and your best planting time is during fall for winter bloom, so you'll have good bloom before your inevitable "burn-out" once summer begins. We recommend people in South Florida plant our All-Annual mix starting in September. Bloom with annuals, begins in 6 to 8 weeks, and lasts for about 3-4 months.
California: California wildflower experts recommend planting wildflower seeds beginning in October, and continuing on into January. It's always best to plant just before your rainiest season begins.
The South: Your wildflower seed planting method is the same as the Northeast, except you have much less time to wait for your spring sprouting and summer bloom. As long as you have had frost (when the tomatoes and impatiens are dead from the cold), you can do a "dormant" planting of wildflower seed anytime. Whether your ground freezes or not, your seed will sprout and begin to grow as soon as your spring growing season begins.