Why is Fall an Ideal Time for Planting?

Why is Fall an Ideal Time for Planting?

Who doesn’t love Fall?  Cooler weather, pumpkin patches, football and fire pits are a few of the first things that come to mind.  But what about updating your landscape by planting trees or shrubs? 

What About Spring?

Most people think of Spring as the best time to plant anything, but for trees and shrubs, there are a few reasons this may not be true: 

  1. Spring encourages new shoots and leaves to the top part of trees and plants. For a newly planted tree or shrub, this new growth hinders the establishment of the roots.  However, in the Fall, when the air is cooler than the soil, roots are encouraged to grow without having to feed the leaves.
  2. Spring is immediately followed by dry, hot summer days. The loss of water (desiccation) will most certainly stress the roots of new trees or shrubs.  However, in Fall, the increased rainfall along with cooler temps will help to establish roots before temperatures drop below freezing.   

What Should I Plant?

  1. Some types of trees and shrubs will thrive when planted in the Fall. Here are examples:

Trees to Plant in Fall:  alder, ash, buckeye, catalpa, crabapple, hackberry, hawthorn, honey locust, elm, Kentucky coffee tree, linden, maple, sycamore, pines, and spruces.

Trees to Plant in Springbald cypress, American hornbeam, ginkgo, larch, magnolia, hemlock, sweetgum, tulip tree, and willow. Also broad-leaved evergreens such as rhododendrons and narrow-leafed evergreens such as yews prefer spring planting.

  1. As a rule of thumb, plants with shallow, fibrous root systems can be planted easier in the Fall than those with fewer, larger ones. Seek out a reputable nursery or garden center to purchase your plants. Remember healthy trees and shrubs will last for decades in your landscape, so they are worth the investment.  Of course, we recommend a RootMaker Certified Grower in order to ensure your transplant success.Fibrous Root System vs. Larger, Circling Roots

Timing is Everything

If you do decide to plant in the fall, the best time is approximately 6 weeks before the first hard frost.  Plant roots will grow anytime the soil temperature is 40 degrees or higher, so 6 weeks will give you ample time before the ground freezes and winter sets in.  Depending on your zone this could be anywhere from late August to November. 

No matter what time of year you decide to plant your trees and shrubs, remember to always mulch and water. 

Happy Fall Y'all!

1 comment

  • Lizz Kleemeier

    Are oaks best planted in spring or fall?

    If one plans to dig up a white oak seedling to grow in a RootMaker pot, is it better to do that now or let the seedling stay in the ground until fall and pot then? The object is to produce saplings with foot root systems that can be planted in suburban yards.

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