The Q&A Archives: Planting Times

Question: Best times to plant trees and shrubs in zone 6? We've just purchased a new home and I need to re-do the neglected front landscape. I've read conflicting information about when to plant new shrubs/trees in my zone. Is fall or spring best? When is the latest I should plant them?

Answer: The rule of thumb is that you can plant container grown trees and shrubs any time the ground is not frozen (or too muddy) to dig. Water them in well and mulch. Fall is a good time to plant because there is no pressure on the plants to put out top growth. Instead, they can direct their energy to growing new roots and they will do that until the ground becomes too cold. They will also start up again early next spring. For these reasons early fall is in some ways preferable to spring planting. Evergreens, however, are generally best planted in the spring. Bare-root plants are put in when they are available -- in early spring. And in some areas the selection and condition of the plants available to purchase is superior in spring. So the answer to your question is "it depends". Finally, no matter when you plant, make sure the plants are watered adequately for at least a full year by either the hose or the sky, and keep an eye on those new plants during dry spells for the first three years until they become well established.

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