When is the best time to plant in Portland?

by Ben Bowen

Is There A "Best" Time For Planting?

I get asked this question all the time by our landscaping clients. In the summer people are worried about the heat. In the winter they are afraid of the cold. And while it's true, heat and cold can be dangerous to plants, we usually have pretty mild weather here in Portland. 

Does that mean you can safely plant at almost any time? Yes!

best time to plant
mountain laurel

It is never too hot in Portland to plant. Just give the plant plenty of water. No matter when you plant, summer is going to pose the biggest challenge. If your plant dies in the first year, it will die in the summer. If your plant is well watered through that first summer it will most likely live a long time.

It is rarely too cold to plant in Portland. In fact, many plants are essentially dormant and are less likely to shock during the winter. Our policy is to avoid planting when the ground is frozen. This is more about us than the plant though. Even when the ground is "frozen" it's just the top 2-4 inches. These cold snaps don't last long, so just wait a couple days, and then plant in the mud!

But if you really want to choose the "best" time to install new plants, go with fall. Planting in the fall provides three big benefits:

  1. Temperature. Plants don't love heat (well, our PNW plants don't usually).
  2. Rain. Plants do love them some rain.
  3. Time. Your plants will get as much time as possible to get set for their first summer.

To sum it all up: plant any time you want, except extreme cold snaps. Focus your worry instead on getting your plants happily to the other side of their first summer. And have fun. Now all you need is a nursery....