edlincoln(6A)July 31, 2014

I know now is the absolute worst time of year to transplant and plant perennials and trees, but it's hard to resist temptation. One of my main sources for plants is Native Plant Sales (which are in the Spring & Summer) and nurseries attached to a botanical garden I visit...well, I visit it in the summer, and see the plants. Then it shuts down in the Fall. A lot of nurseries seem to shut down and switch to Fall produce or Christmas Tree mode pretty early. So NOW is when I see all these plants I want to plant.

Anyone else notice a similar phenomenon?

Also, when can I switch back to "tree ordering" mode in New England? Everyone says "Fall" but that is vague and hard to mark on my calendar.

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Some things depend on your goals, such as what type of trees you want to buy/plant. Generally when I grow or buy plants I have a clear idea of where in my garden beds they're going to be planted. As a general rule I'm never in any rush to plant them. The ground doesn't freeze where I am until December at the earliest so if I wanted to plant something I'd likely pick a time in October to get it in the ground, keep it watered into November.

If I find a "must have" plant at a nursery, I'll buy it, bring it home & pot it up in a nursery pot and let it get some size to it before setting it my garden bed.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:38PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Now is a perfectly fine time to plant potted plants. You can usually get them out of the pot without too much root disturbance, and they will do better in the ground than in the pot. Transplanting can be a bit trickier, since that usually does involve root destruction.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:24PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I don't think you need to resist temptation! Just buy what you want, and plant it when things cool off! I don't think I would plant now, at least in general, but depending on the plant and it's growing spot, and your ability (time, etc.) to keep an eye on it, I suppose you there are some things you could plant now.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:08AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

If you were planting the material in your own yard and could take care of it, I agree with mad_gallica and Dee - you can plant potted plants now.

However, as I understand the situation, you are planting in your parents' yard, which is not near where you live, so you visit there every few months and plant then. And the kicker is that no one there will water the plants.

Given those obstacles, I would wait until mid-September or early October when the weather has cooled down (barring hurricanes) and the ground will hold moisture. Copious mulch will be essential and trees should be staked to protect from winds. You don't want to wait until the first frost is near - the trees need plenty of time to establish new roots.

Resisting temptation is better than coming back and seeing dead, dried-up, and/or uprooted trees.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:04PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I know well what you mean by "Fall" being vague. When I was living in an apartment in NYC and planting in MA, I bought three peonies from White Flower Farm on sale (3 for $25!), potted them up, and put them outside on my windowsill in the East Village until I could get up to MA at Thanksgiving. Everything I read said "plant peonies in Fall", but there's a point where "Fall" segues into "Winter".

I posted on GW asking about whether I could plant the peonies late in November or whether I should heel them in over the winter. I finally got a reasonable answer which was, so long as you can dig a hole it's better to get the peonies in the ground. I planted them and left them to fend for themselves over the winter.

That was about ten years ago. The three 'Festiva Maxima' peonies are thriving (granted, peonies are tough).

I guess the point I'm making is that if you have to abandon a plant it's better to abandon it when it's about to go dormant rather than when it's in active growth.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:26PM
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