It is widely known in the gardening community that fall, winter (and early spring) is a great time to plant trees. Summer’s a bad choice, because the weather is too hot and the actively growing plants are too susceptible to damage. Fall and winter planting gives roots a chance to settle in during the cooler months, so the tree gets a head-start on the next growing season and is better equipped for the summer’s heat. What is not common knowledge is the fact that trees should have a ‘sell by’ date similar to foods at the grocery store. Trees that have been sitting in a plastic pot or burlap since spring are not the best trees to plant in the fall because they have become root-bound and stressed. Nurseries also dig up trees in early fall and these have a much better chance of springing to life.
It is least disruptive to plant trees when they are dormant. When do they go dormant? In the Northern Hemisphere, deciduous trees begin to enter dormancy at some point in the autumn and begin to leave it at some point in the spring. The dropping of their leaves in autumn signals that they are entering dormancy. The unfurling of buds in spring signals that they are leaving dormancy.
There is more leeway in the matter of when to plant trees that are evergreen. You have the option of planting earlier in the fall and later in the spring than you have with deciduous trees. However, you’ll still want to avoid planting them when it’s hot. If it’s still hot in your region in late September, wait until later in the fall. Likewise, if early June brings hot weather to your zone, plant those evergreens earlier in the spring!
Newly planted tree should be watered three times a week. Since soil dries slower in lower temperatures, watering needs decrease in winter. But keep in mind that winter can be a dry time. That may be hard to imagine with all the snow we’ve had this year, but remember the moisture from the snow can’t get to the roots until the snow melts and the ground thaws. Thus in cold climates, winter brings desert conditions of a sort and watering properly is essential.
A tree is a great investment that, with sufficient water, keeps growing for years! (unlike most financial investments)
Remember to support your local nurseries!