Is it really true that fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees? A gardener friend of mine was strongly discouraging me from buying and planting bushes now, he was saying that the "fall is for planting" line was simply marketing by nurseries because they need sales.
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I know it's certainly a cheaper time to buy trees and shrubs, but when I worked at a nursery in Canada (zone 3, in the prairies) we always told people up-front that the odds were slightly higher that their new purchases wouldn't survive the winter. This is because we had a hard ground freeze and plants without established root systems often didn't fare as well.
Here in Denmark where I live now, in zone 8, I think it's slightly more practical, because the ground doesn't totally freeze (except for 1-2 weeks in January or February). Fall plantings seem to appreciate a cool season to really develop roots, and there isn't so much transplant shock as there is when planting in the heat: generally it's better to transplant in cooler weather.
In short, I think it depends on the relative harshness of your winters.
It all depends on where you live (zone) and what you're planting. Personally, I plant all the time without issue, but I plant properly and mulch like a maniac. The caution in zone 7B Atlantic Coast is the mid summer months when drought is the norm. Plant like crazy in the fall and spring.
I won't plant past March where I am if I'm paying good money for a tree or shrub. If it's free it can go in anytime, anywhere. Either way, I have little to no water to give it, so it has to fend for itself. Hardy plants sometimes come through, even in difficult situations. I just won't spend money for what could be a catastrophe.
I tend to believe that the "second spring" that starts at the end of August where I live is good for plants. It gives them a gentle immersion in the site they will be permanently and it does so at a time when they are less active. If you plant in spring the plant is putting energy into the leaves, not the roots. If you plant in summer, in many temperate climates the situation is far to hot for a plant to begin life successfully.
If you have cool summers, the plant is slightly shaded, you have ample access to mulch material, and can water every day about 200 liters or more per plant in a drought situation, then go for it. I don't have that situation, so I have to let nature do all that for me, which means waiting for fall. I find that the prices for plants are high in the spring where I am. People get their green thumb ideas around the start of May, and the nurseries try to capitalize on that.
If you live in a mild climate like I do (9a-8b), and you are planting hardy plants like apple trees, plums, cherries, pears, etc., not only can you get a better deal on plants, with many sales in the fall, but they get a head start on plants for next year. Don't buy pot=bound plants unless they're really cheap and you';re really willing to do the work to straighten out the roots, etc.
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posted 5 years ago
John Saltveit wrote:If you live in a mild climate like I do (9a-8b), and you are planting hardy plants like apple trees, plums, cherries, pears, etc., not only can you get a better deal on plants, with many sales in the fall, but they get a head start on plants for next year
Interesting. Maybe it's a version of economies of scale, or a climate thing, or...
but you basically never see fruit trees for sale here before late winter, and they're gone by early spring.
The big shops will have sad trees hanging about till who knows when, but they're tree torturers in my opinion
Here in central eu zone5/6 by the end of october bare rooted trees are dug up and sold.
No marketing here, natures cycles only.
And yes, here it's the best to plant before winter, better growth compared to spring planted trees and shrubs for sure.