The perfect time to plant

Is it a good time to plant a tree?

It seems that no matter the time of year, I get people asking me, “Is now a good time to plant a tree”, the simple answer is YES! It’s always a great time to plant a tree! The reality though is that there are better times than others to make additions or changes to your landscape.

Life Cycle

Selecting the right time to plant has a lot to do with the life cycle of plants. In the spring they’re waking up and sucking up lots of nutrients, in summer they’re putting on new growth and they’re a little stressed because of heat, in the fall they’re entering dormancy and begin to shed leaves and in the winter they’re completely dormant. Understanding what the tree is going through at each season will help you determine when to plant. 

Transplant shock

Whenever you move a plant in any way it’s going to go through “transplant shock”. Believe it or not, plants weren’t designed to be moved. When a plant is moved there will be minor root damage and this causes the plant to stress. If a plant is moved, its best to move that plant when the roots are doing the least amount of work and that typically means sometime during its dormancy. Moving it during this time allows the plant to experience the least amount of “transplant shock” possible. 

Dormancy planting problems

The main problem with landscaping when plants are dormant is generally that it means its winter-time. Winter-time brings several issues to landscaping. The ground is often too hard to dig into and the frozen ground doesn’t offer protective insulation to tender roots that are being transplanted. That leaves the best time to plant in the early spring or late fall.

Get ready to plant!

The best time to plant is spring. The ground is thawed enough to work in, but plants are still in dormancy. Springtime planting also causes the least amount of stress to the tender root balls of plants. The fall time is a great time to plant as well however, you won’t know how well your plant has taken to the transplant until months after its planted. Spring planting allows you to see the results of your transplantation right away. 

Can I plant other times? 

While planting in the spring is ideal, planting throughout the year is always doable and in most cases successfully done. Just remember to limit the amount of stress put on the root ball. For example, planting a tree, shrub or perennial that has been grown in a container pot in the middle of the summer is perfectly fine. This is because container grown material is grown specifically with the root ball in mind. We’ll learn more about that another day. 

Good luck planting!

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