Each time I go to my parent's house I am reminded of one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever received. I received the gift of a pin oak tree when I graduated from undergrad as a reminder from a family friend to never forget where I came from. When I received the tree, I thought it was neat, but I didn't exactly want to take the time to read the instructions on how to plant it and care for it. My dad did and looking back now, I am glad he did.
It is really easy when purchasing new plants or receiving a plant from a friend or neighbor to not pay attention to the label. The label tells you a lot of valuable information and will help increase the likelihood that the plant will survive. Some of the information that it tells you is the zone the plant grows in, how large the plant will get, sunlight and water requirements, along with how to plant it.
When it comes to trees, knowing how large the tree will get and how deep to plant it, are two big factors in its success. When planting a tree, I strongly suggest you think about how big it can get in relationship to everything else around it. I have been on several client visits lately where homeowners forgot to think about this and the new landowner is having to figure out ways to maintain the tree without destroying other items around their property.
Most often, homeowners want to plant new trees in the spring. Spring is nice, but you might consider a fall planting. Fall is typically associated with cooler temperatures and adequate rainfall and might make for a better time to plant trees than an excessively wet spring. The down fall is that fall planted trees may not have enough time to establish a good root system before winter hits.
If you do decide to plant trees this fall, select balled-and-burlapped or container-grown trees. Bare-root plants should only be planted in late winter or early spring while the plants are still dormant. Also, don’t select the largest tree at the store as they tend to be harder to plant for various reasons.
There are a few species of trees that I would not recommend you plant this time of year. They are: birch, cherries, dogwood, hawthorn, magnolia, poplars, plum, red maple, sweet gum, tuliptree, and many of the oaks. They tend to have a lower rate of survival when planted in the fall.
Ultimately, it is important to know that you can plant trees in the fall and have them survive. You just have to decide if you want to wait until the spring and pay more for the tree or take a risk by purchasing one on sale now. If you do purchase one now, remember to read the label to see how it needs to be planted and how big it will get. Then in late November or early December you may want to add 2-4 inches of mulch around the base of the tree to help with moisture retention and temperature fluctuations.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at email@example.com. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
October 12 – Owen Co. Extension Board Annual Dinner, Owen Co. 4-H Exhibit Hall
October 14—Clay Co. 4-H Fall Frolic, 9:00 am-3:00pm, $10, Clay Co. Extension Office
October 14—Columbus Day, Extension Office Closed