When Can I Plant Shrubs and Trees?

When Can I Plant Shrubs and Trees?

As I do design consultations for our customers, a frequent question is “When can I plant these?” or “What’s the best time to plant?” and at this time of year the answer is “Whenever the plants are available in the garden center.” In the spring we have trucks rolling in daily, and the plants immediately go outside on display, so if a customer sees shrubs and trees in our nursery, it’s safe to plant those in the landscape. Later in the season my answer about the best time to plant will be a bit different. I’m likely to say, “May is better than June, June is better than July, July is better than August, and August is better than September.” The idea behind that statement is that the longer a plant has to get established before winter hits, the better it is.

Here are some tips for successful spring plantings:

  1. Don’t bury the stems of your plants; keep the soil line that is in the pot as the soil surface in your garden. Many plants do not do well when planted too deeply. Look for the “root flare” on shrubs and trees…it’s the tiny outward curve that the trunks and stems form right above the soil line. Make sure that is still showing after you place the plant in the ground.
  2. Dig a bowl shaped hole that is the depth of the rootball you are planting, but wider so that the native soil gets loosened. After placing your plant in the center, return the native soil. Amend soils from the top down by putting a two inch layer of compost or composted manure over the surface of the soil under the dripline. Cover that with an inch of mulch.
  3. To improve fertility and help the plant get a good start, mix some Bio-tone fertilizer into the native soil before you place it around the rootball.
  4. Always water the plant in well, even if rain is expected.
  5. Unless a tree has a really large, heavy canopy, you shouldn’t have to stake it. It’s the action of a tree blowing in the wind that creates hormones that signal the roots to grow…so an un-staked tree gets established more quickly.


When you see the stock in our nursery, it’s safe to plant these in your garden!

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