Recently I read an article on Sunset’s website, suggesting that we all rush out and buy those discounted perennials to plant for fall. We all know by now that fall planting is a great idea, but is fall really the best time to plant everything, even perennials? Many perennials don’t actually live all that long (I’m lookin’ at you, Gaura!), and some are sensitive to frost or the coastal Pacific Northwest’s rainy winters, so coddling them through the cold season can be an exercise in waiting and hoping, or if you really care about them, covering the tender ones in a protective frame of some kind. The article suggested planting Salvia leucantha/ Mexican Bush Sage, Aster x frikartii, Echinacea/ Coneflower, Gaura lindheimeri, Gaillardia, Rudbeckia/ Black-Eyed Susan, Salvia elegans/ Pineapple Sage, and Eryngium/ Sea Holly now – all of which can die in our winters even when well-established. Here’s the deal: Anything short-lived, frost-tender, or that molds in the rain is best planted after frost in spring, so the plant has time to develop a healthy root system before being asked to tolerate uncomfortable conditions. If their tops freeze next year, they’ll still have a year’s worth of root growth underground to spring back from.