How late can you plant trees and shrubs in the fall?

nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)September 1, 2009

The good news is that I will be closing on a new house on 1.25 acres of land. The bad news is that the closing date isn't until Oct. 15.

Is there any way I could still plant trees and shrubs this fall to get a jump on things, or should I just wait until next spring? I was thinking of ordering a variety of bareroot seedlings and saplings this fall and storing them in 5-gal. pails full of moist potting soil if need be until we can close on the house and I can get to planting them. Is this a reasonable plan, or am I just kidding myself?


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It is usually safe to plant till the frost sets into the ground. That said, it may be a good idea to wait till spring, not because of the late planting date, but because the new trees and shrubs will be young and tasty and every hungry deer and rabbit will take a toll on them. You are not going to get any significant growth out of them by planting early, and I am a proponant of living in ones space before planting, it will give you a better idea of what the light conditions are, the type of soil you have, how the drainage works around your new home and how the wind will factor in. All of this knowledge will help you make a better desision on what to plant and where.

My two cents for what thats worth....Helen.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 9:36AM
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Helen makes some nice points.

I understand your excitement, and putting some plants in a nice way to commemorate your event.

Of course you realize that fall 09 vs. spring 10 is not going to make much difference in their size 5 years from now.

The Extension Service has some really good info about all things garden--check 'em out and many happy years in your new home!

I've planted late and gotten good results. I've also had to water as late as Dec. 1st to give late-planted plants a fighting chance. On the whole, though, I strive to be the world's laziest gardener. BTW, I'm also a Master Gardener. Given your circumstances, I, personally, would wait.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trees and Shrubs (and more!)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 11:54AM
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IMO, if you just have to do something, I would just prepare your planting areas this fall, so everything will be ready to plant easily next spring. I like doing bareroot planting in the spring as you can get more plants for your money. I have never heard of anyone doing bareroot planting in the fall. Lots I don't know, though.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 2:49PM
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I'd pass on the bareroot until spring and perhaps see what kind of sales the garden centers have this fall. Maybe some deals can be had on potted material. May be worth the extra money.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 8:13AM
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jazzygardener(z4 MN)

I planted some shrubs last year near the end of Oct beginning November and they did fine. I was surprised that they made it but, I was told by someone who came to speak at our garden club that you can plant late into the fall. All I did was get the root in the ground and water it. The shrubs I got were going to be throw away so I just had to save them.

I even moved my Pink Diamond hydrangea April 8 of this year and there was still ice in the ground. It did great and bloomed this year.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 10:08PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Of course, we are only talking about deciduous materials here. Planting from a pot with extablished growing root systems is fine at least all through October. Be sure to mulch heavily around the root zone as well as on top. This is one of the few times times you are mulching to keep the soil warm as long as possible.

I also have never heard of bare root stock planting in the fall. It goes against the natural growth of the plant. I don't think you can "wake up" a dormant plant to only make roots without the ensuing top growth. I would be very surprised if it was successful.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 12:21AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

"I also have never heard of bare root stock planting in the fall."

That's odd. My grandmother would order bareroot apple trees from Gurney's every few years for fall delivery (usually around late Sept), and I recall they were already leafless by the time they arrived. She never had any problems as far as I can remember. Also, as a kid on the farm I would dig up wild tree seedlings from the woods in fall, after they had gone dormant, and transplant them around the yard, along fencelines, etc.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 12:37AM
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