QUESTION: Is fall a good time to plant all trees and shrubs?
ANSWER: Fall provides a good environment here in Mississippi and across our country for planting larger plants such as shrubs and trees for many reasons. In fall, the weather is cooler. With cooler weather, plants transpire less than they would in hot weather…a fancy way of saying that plants lose less water through their leaves. By keeping more water in the leaves, the plant will stress less and can divert more energy to root production. A well-established root system is paramount for plant survival! Fall’s cooler temperatures sets up another scenerio for good root production. Once the air temperature falls below the temperature of the soil, shoot growth ceases. Here again, the plant can divert more energy to root production.
Although fall is a great time for planting, not every shrub is well-suited for fall planting. Deciduous shrubs and trees fare best because they lose their leaves in the fall and thus transpire less in the winter. Trees to plant in the fall include apples, crapapples, lindens, maples, hawthorns and elms. Shrubs to plant in the fall include barberrys, lilacs, witchhazels and forsythia. Evergreens, on the other hand, keep their leaves during the winter and will continue to lose water through their leaves throughout the winter leaving them susceptible to winter injury if their roots are not established before freezing weather. Another factor to consider is the root structure of the plants. Plants with shallow root systems recover faster after transplanting, whereas plants with thick taproots like magnolia, tuliptree, oak and ginkgo take longer to recover and are better suited for spring planting. If you are wondering when it is best to plant a particular shrub or tree not mentioned in this article, please give us a call!
Good luck with your fall planting and have a happy week in your garden!
Do you have a gardening question? Call the Pontotoc Extension Service at 662-489-3911 and ask to leave a question for the Master Gardeners. Pontotoc County Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who help the MSU Extension Service and serve the citizens of Pontotoc County.