Proper time to plant

billy_kain(8)November 14, 2013

I recently bought a coupe of pear trees in containers (4 or 5 feet tall). I know less than nothing about fruit trees of any sort, so I want to know when I can plant them in the ground. Most videos I've watched, show them being planted in early spring.

I live in zone 8, NE Texas. It is very unusual for the ground to freeze more than several inches deep, but it is mid-November. Should I wait until spring? If so, how should I store the tree over winter?

I tried to search for this information, but did not find enough to feel comfortable that I knew what I was doing. I am sure it has been covered many times here.

Thanks for any information or things I may have overlooked.

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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

John you zone like mind November 18th is earily planting date I guess you as well I have had freezing night last night was 28 time to plant as the above ground part plant has stop growing. Your plants have all winter to root growth bud swell in late winter they take off when spring warms. Spring planting is for coldness climates not South.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 8:43AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Fall is for planting. I live in Michigan. It's below freezing right now. Last week I put in a Weeping Santa Rosa Plum tree. So yes, you can plant in the spring or the fall. I would put them in now instead of letting them get root bound in pots over the winter.
You want to slightly cut the roots too when you plant. You want to stop the swirling that is occurring in the pot. Cut an "X" on the bottom and make 4 cuts down each side. Depending on size of pot, stick knife in about 2 inches into the root ball, not all the way through.
Don't amend the soil unless super poor. Dig an area deep enough for roots to fit, and an extra space about 2 feet wide beyond roots so they can grow into loose soil. Mound the plants if possible, so water runs away from them. Pack well as often soil will settle, and your planting will be low. If slightly mounded, settling will at worst make it even with the ground. Usually trees are put on rootstock. A side bud is used, and you can see a cut off rootstock. Face that cut north, or north west. You may want to protect the trunk by painting it with 50 to 75% diluted INDOOR white latex paint, not outdoor. This protects the trunk in 2 ways. From sunburn, and also borer attack. At least it is thought to help. A new tree cannot shade itself. At least use a trunk guard to protect from sunburn, Even in the winter. Often the truck tissues swell from the winter sun, then it freezes and causes severe damage. Protect it!
Mice and rabbits like to chew young tender trunks. Both paint and guard will not hurt.
Do not fertilize at this time. Keep moist throughout the winter, not wet, just moist. The roots are traumatized and are going to need water and care till the tree can establish. Don't kill it with kindness either.Not too much water. Water deeply with a lot of water, but as infrequently as possible. Better than frequent small waterings.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 8:53AM
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alan haigh

I agree that fall is best, in general, and for most species including pears, but with container plants you can put them in the ground at any time- that is the key benefit of potted nursery plants.

The key liability is that potting mix is very coarse and sometimes dries out extremely quickly. when trees are in leaf it is especially important to keep the potting soil moist. Because it is almost always coarser than surrounding soil the surrounding soil must be kept moist as well because it can suck moisture out of potting mix very quickly when it gets dry.

The other major liability is the tendency of roots to rap around in circles within the pot. Pear roots are usually too brittle to pull out when this occurs, except fairly fine roots, but it is often useful to pull circling roots straight, even holding them down with rocks, and bury them into the native soil well beyond the diameter of the pot. Otherwise trees may take a very long time to anchor well. Some trees may even suffer from girdling roots eventually if circling roots end up strangling the crown.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Thanks to all. I am very grateful for your help and information. Will put them in tomorrow.

Thank you,

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 8:20PM
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