Fall Planting Tips

When it comes to fall planting or plant care, I recommend you follow these basic tips for trees, shrubs, perennials and berries.

Autumn is a great time to plant perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs. Container plants and burlap wrapped specimen trees usually have nicely developed root systems. Because roots don’t have to supply nutrients and water to growing stems and new leaves, they can concentrate on getting established when you plant them. New & existing roots grow—although slowly—even when soil temperature is 8 degrees above freezing.

Before you plant, make sure to allow enough time for the plant roots to get settled in and acclimated before cold weather sets in. If it’s well into fall in Connecticut, plant the species that are most easily established—deciduous shrubs and maple, etc. Wait until spring to plant the trees that are slow to establish—like oak, birch, willow, ginkgo, etc. Mulch well after you plant to conserve soil temperature (but don’t pile mulch to close to the trunk, it’ll suffocate the tree or plant). In a cooler climate, wait until spring to plant broad-leaved evergreens and conifers, to avoid excessive water loss through the foliage and to give them the warmer soil temperatures they need. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to plant, check with our local nursery or Connecticut extension service.


More Planting Tips


Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and other such berries perform best in rich, loose, well-drained soil. Depending on the type of soil you have and whether you need to adjust the pH. For example—blueberries need an approximate acidic soil of pH 4.5 to 5.0—you may want to spend fall preparing the soil and wait until spring to plant.

Plant fruit trees in full sun and away from large shade trees that might take away water and nutrients. You’re lucky if you have a north-facing slope like my property. That’s the best place to plant fruit trees. The trees will less likely be tricked into flowering too soon by an early spring … and more apt to escape a late frost because cold air will fall into lower-lying areas. If you don’t have a slope, placing the trees on the north side of a house can help with the too-early bud issue.

Over the years, I have seen the advice modify slightly as to how best to plant trees. Current conventional wisdom is to dig a hole no deeper than the depth of the root ball or container—but three or four times as wide. It gives the roots a chance to work there way into softer soil. In fact, it’s even better to dig the hole a couple of inches shallower than the depth of the root ball. Keep in mind, digging a hole that’s deeper than the root ball and then filling it partially with backfill before placing the tree invites settling. That’s NOT good. With a few waterings and a little time, the tree could sink below ground level and this could kill your tree by suffocation.

More to come … keep coming back!


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