Planting trees in the fall offers many advantages over planting trees in the spring. To name a few: “Transpiration is low and root generation potential is high. The temperatures are typically moderate to cool, and are easier on the plants so there is less chance for the trees to be stressed by extreme heat. The fall moisture (rains) helps the trees and shrubs establish their root systems. When the air temperatures are cooler than the existing soil, new root growth is encouraged without new top growth. The result is a stronger, better developed root system for the next spring when the plant begins to grow.” (Source)
When is the best time to plant trees in the fall?
The best time for planting trees in the fall is mid-August through mid-October. A good general rule of thumb is to make sure that you are planting trees while your existing trees still have leaves.
If all the leaves have fallen, then you shouldn’t try planting trees until the colder months have ended. But if you want to be completely sure, you also can take the soil’s temperature using a soil thermometer. Soil that is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for several consecutive days is the best for planting trees.
Best Trees to Plant in the Fall:
October Glory Red Maple: Able to grow all over the continental United States. The breathtaking colors of this gorgeous shade tree make it a perfect addition to any landscape. It has glistening dark green leaves all through spring and summer that and will turn a radiant red late in fall and last several weeks.
It’s improved heat tolerance and dependable fall color make this tree one of the most popular selections of red maples. The October Glory displays a nice silvery-gray bark and features tiny but noticeable red flowers that begin to bloom in spring, and its elegant red fruit attract birds and other wildlife.
Autumn Blaze Maple: Another beautiful maple tree, the Autumn Blaze Maple is an improved hybrid with an exceptional, long lasting orange-red fall color, a uniform branching habit and fast growth rate.
Leaves emerge in the spring with a reddish tint and turn green in the summer. During the shorter days of fall, the leaves take on a brilliant shade of orange and red that gives the Autumn Blaze its name. Leaves are up to 5” long.
Longleaf Pine: A lush and elegant tree, the Longleaf Pine tree can reach up to 80 to 100 feet tall in maturity and can live for over 300 years.
The trees naturally prune their lower branches enabling them to grow almost completely straight. Longleaf pine forests are a true southern treasure.The Longleaf Pine tree prefers sandy, dry, acidic soil and requires sunlight to grow. The trunk of this evergreen conifer is covered in thick, peel bark and the leaves can grow up to 18 inches long.
Newly planted trees will need tender care and maintenance the first year or two of planting to establish. A slow release fertilizer applied annually to the top of the root ball will initiate new growth. Organic matter such as mulch applied at the base of the tree will help with ground freezes. This is especially important during the first few years of planting while the young tree is still establishing its root system. Eliminate air pockets when planting by applying pressure at the base of the trunk.
The best time of year to plant trees and shrubs is in early spring or early fall. Fall plantings are an ideal time because of the growing season timeline. There are several winter blooming trees that can provide fall colors too.
Have questions about planting trees or need some additional support? Check out this blog post on what vegetables to plant in the fall as well.