Fall Planting of Trees
This is my site Written by Geoff on September 1, 2002 – 7:32 pm

The Fall planting season for trees has arrived. If you had planned to plant trees last spring but did not get around to it, do not worry, Fall is the second best time to plant. 

This is because with cooler temperatures and shorter days, the plant is going dormant. By planting in the Fall, the tree has plenty of opportunity to establish itself before spring. Most container-grown and balled and burlapped deciduous trees are excellent candidates for Fall planting. Container-grown or balled trees can be easily planted on into October. 

Trees set in the Fall make root growth during the Fall and Winter months that enables them to become established before warm weather. Fall planting of evergreens is more of a risk because they lose moisture from needles. We recommend delaying the planting of evergreens until spring. 

Dig a hole wide enough to allow the roots to spread out without bending back into the hole. You want to encourage all of the roots to spread out and take hold in their new home. One of the best ways to do this, if the plant is in the least root bound, is to gently tear the roots before planting. 

Test to make sure the hole has good drainage. Soil in the bottom of the hole should be firmed to avoid excessive settling before easing the plant in. Add soil around the roots and use water instead of tamping to settle it. 

Once you get the tree in the ground, add a root stimulator to the water and then water thoroughly. Root stimulators contain a mild fertilizer that accelerates the development of feeder roots. Wait on the heavy feeding for Spring. Keep watering new plants until the ground freezes. 

Trees planted in areas subject to strong winds should be staked. Soft twine, strips of webbing, or soft rope may be used to tie the tree to the stakes. Mulch, 4-5 inches to help keep the roots consistently moist and withstand extreme temperature changes. 

It is sometimes necessary to move plants from one location to another. The best time to move deciduous plants is from late Fall until Late Winter. When digging a plant to be moved, try to get as much of the root system as possible. Remove one-third to one-half of the top of the plant to compensate for the roots lost at digging. 

The following trees have been tested by the Colorado State University Horticulture Department and are suitable for Fall planting. 

  1. Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’
    – A tree rapidly becoming a Michigan favorite. This tree requires low to medium watering and its foliage turns a striking shade of purple in the fall.
  2. Fraxinus pennsylvanica ‘Marshall’s Seedless Ash’
    – Suitable for street tree use. This ash turns yellow in the fall.
  3. Sophora japonica ‘Japanese Pagodaatree’
    – Pagodatree bears large creamy flowers in midsummer and bead-like pods in Fall.
  4. Quercus bicolor ‘Swamp White Oak’
    – A more handsome tree than its common name might imply. It is native to wet locations, so it adapts well to heavy clay soils. Some oaks grow very slowly, but this species is faster growing.
  5. Quercus rubra ‘Red Oak’
    – The Red Oak is notable for its glossy, dark green leaves throughout the summer which turn bright red in the fall.

Additional Fall tree choices include common hackberry, littleleaf linden and Norway maple. 

While we prefer Spring planting of trees we have never had a problem with Fall planting if done properly. Just make your selections carefully, plant correctly, and water thoroughly and often.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm UTC

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