How late can you plant perennials, shrubs, etc?

trillium_z5MO(z5 MO)October 26, 2004


I have read a few threads on this subject and I'm still uncertain of how late I can plant. Quite a few people said fall is a good time to plant because it gives the plant time to develop strong roots before the heat comes on.

When you get a chance please answer these questions:

1. How late can I plant perennials?

2. If the cut-off date is fall, exactly what month is the lastest I can plant?

3. Can I plant Juniper trees in fall? (up to what month)

4. As I understand some decidious trees should not be planted in fall b/c they are marginally hardy in zone 5, such as an evergreen Magnolia (Brakens Beauty). Can a sweetbay Magnolia be planted in fall?

5. Up to what month can ornamental grasses and shrub roses (i.e knockout) be planted?

5a.Why is a plant at risk if planted in fall? or right near the time ground freezes? Does the ground freeze all the way down to where the roots are and then kill the plant?

6. Last question what does bareroot mean, how is that different than b&b.

Thank you so much for your anticipated response to these many questions.

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It is my understanding that it is preferred to plant trees/scrubs/perennials in the fall. You must still water them and fertilize just like planting in spring. I plant until ground freezes (at all)
You can get good info from your local County extention office on this topic.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 4:46AM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

I've read that you can actually plant throught the winter. It just wouldn't be very easy because of frozen soil. And everything needs to be watered well. Not a job I'd want to tackle when it's below freezing.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 9:08AM
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apcohrs(z5 IL)

You can plant shrubs and trees until the ground freezes solid.

However, up north, planting perennials in the fall is much iffier - not due to the cold, but due to frost heave during the winter.

My mortality rate is about 5 TIMES greater for fall planted perennials than in the spring.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 2:36PM
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SandL(6a KS)

All of my gardening books say to stop planting when the ground freezes.
Presently, I'm still preparing two shade beds and buying all the 60% off hostas I can get my hands on before winter is upon me. For those beds that are already done (which is hardly any) I'm starting to winterize.
If you are a glutton for punishment and want to freeze your patootie off while digging in rock hard, frozen ground - go for it. However, I don't think your plants will benefit since their roots will have a hard time establishing themselves in the soil.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 4:08PM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

Skip the fertilizer when planting and use B1 or root starter instead. You don't want to get a big spurt of new leaf growth, etc, right before a freeze and fertilizer is going to promote foliage growth especially if you have an "indian summer". The main thing you want is good root growth as quickly as possible. You definitely definitely don't want to fertilize evergreens, just use the B1. :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2004 at 12:47AM
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mrmorton(z5 IL)

Well, I work for a landscape company, and have to deal with this concern every fall.

Typically, we do plant shade trees, ornamental trees, and deciduous shrubs right up until the ground freezes. Certainly it is better to give them time to establish a root system, but we have had pretty good luck with this practice.
I would NOT plant evergreens this late in the season. The last date for evergreens is Oct. 15th. They simply do not take well to late fall planting.

Perennials should be in the ground by now. Another poster was right in that without an established root system, frost heaving will occur. This raises the plant out of the ground and will often kill the plant if not rectified.

They key thing I stress to folks is to make sure plants get adequate water. So many people think because the temps are cooler that they don't have to water. This is a big reason why a lot of plants don't survive the winter. Please water!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2004 at 11:20AM
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plantman314(z5-6 StL, MO)

I plant everything I can until the ground freezes. The only time I've had problems with late planting of evergreens is when they exposed to too much and get winterburn.

From school I know some deciduous ornamentals do not always take well for fall planting. This is mainly due to shallow root systems, but a 4-6" layer of mulch over the root ball will usually provide sufficient protection.

Fall planting is preferred because even in winter dormancy the root system of a plant will still actively (,but slowly) grow. Therefore they have a headstart when summer heat and drought begins.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2004 at 10:53PM
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Former neighbors had great luck planting living Xmas trees every year. They did not leave the trees indoors very long (perhaps 2 days). Holes were dug early (like now) filled with straw, and covered with plywood. Topsoil removed from hole stored in garage to avoid freezing. Trees planted after holiday have matured into beauties with fond memories.

So evidently some people can plant (even evergreens!) really late and succeed.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 1:27PM
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