Apple tree planting in fall okay?

WaurikaNovember 7, 2012

Am having a terrible time using the search engine here at GardenWeb...

Is it okay to plant a couple of dwarf apple trees here in very southern Oklahoma, near the Red River, this late in the fall? They are about 12" to 18" tall.

Thanks in advance.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Waurika,

Yes, it is fine to plant an apple tree in autumn in southern OK. In fact, fall is a great time, and I am assuming that the trees are in containers so they have root systems of some sort.

If they were bare root, you still could plant them now, but you'd need to pay extra attention to them this winter, making sure their soil stays moist and never too dry or sopping wet because they'll have small root systems if they're currently bare root. It is better to plant bare root trees in Jan-March. As far west as you are, if I was planting bare root fruit trees in winter/early spring, by the way, I'd plant them in January or as soon as I could find them in stores so they have time to settle in and start growing before the summer heat arrives. You know, in this part of the state, sometimes summer heat arrives long before summer does.

Dawn (waving hello to you from Marietta)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 10:01PM
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Thank you for your reply Dawn. I am not sure how they come shipped or have been grown. Guess I will just take my chances & see how we fair.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 10:03PM
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I have planted bare root trees in the fall before. They have time, to grow roots over the winter... and get a head start for next spring.

Water them at lease once a month... I did a three week schedule.

Right now I am awaiting an apricot and a fig tree, and two blue berry bushes from stark bro.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:59PM
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oklamoni......I just planted a grafted butternut, a dwarf nectarine, and a Halls almond from starks 4 days ago.Ihave read that everyday the temp is over 50 during the winter that small hairlike feeder roots are growing under ground helping the tree to get a good start next spring. Since I can"t see that happening, I'll take their word for that.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:05AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I think that what they say is true. In that sense, the earlier you get a young tree in the ground in fall or winter, the more time it has to form a good root system before it has to endure its first hot summer.

The only real danger in planting any bare-root tree in autumn instead of in late winter is that an extraordinary cold spell like the weather we had in 2011 could damage the small root system if the ground wasn't kept moist and well-mulched or if it didn't have snow cover to insulate the roots. Or, if we had a very, very, very wet winter (wouldn't that be nice), then very young fruit trees in heavy soil that is high in clay content might have issues with their small root systems staying too wet too long. However, that wouldn't be a real issue for anyone with soil that drains half-decently, just for those folks with lots of clay.

We planted two very small bare root peach trees last February and with the early onset of heat and drought, I worried and fretted about those trees all year. They made it through the drought just fine, but I did have a hard time keeping the soil around them moist enough in some parts of July and August.

Generally I happily plant trees any time between October and February, whether bare root or containerized when purchased. I usually won't plant any bare root trees after February for fear they won't have time to form an adequate root system before the onset of the usual heat and drought, but I'll plant containerized trees later in spring with little worry that they won't tolerate the summer heat well.

In the spring of 2011 I bought two tiny fig trees (in one gallon pots) and they were so small, and it was already so hot and dry that I put them in 3 or 5 gallon pots and kept them there throughout 2011. I'm glad I did that because I could keep them in morning sun/afternoon shade during that summer's horrendous heat and drought. This year I moved them up to 10-gallon pots and kept them mostly in full sun where they have grown huge and fruited and been a joy to behold in 2012. So, next spring, I'll finally put them into the ground. I am glad I took my time with them because we just went through two very tough summers. They have very nice root systems now and I believe they'll easily handle whatever weather that 2013 throws at them.

I am planning on planting quite a lot of fruit trees in the next 2 or 3 months. The ones I planted after we moved here in the late 1990s are aging and I want to have younger trees coming along. I also am choosing some varieties that will fruit later than the plum and peach trees we already have. I don't want to have varieties that all produce at the same time. It already is hard to deal with all the peaches and plums from the trees we have because they all tend to produce ripe fruit in mid-June through mid-July in a typical year. 2012 wasn't typical. Because the last freeze was early and the weather warmed up and stayed warm early, we started harvesting fruit a month earlier than usual. That's never happened before.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:31AM
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