The Best Time for Planting Shrubs

A Reason for Every Season


Some say winter, others say fall is the best season for planting shrubs. Here’s a breakdown of what to plant and when.

Planting Shrubs by Season

Winter: January through March is a perfect time to plant all bare root plants, such as roses and fruit trees. These plants are dormant during this time of year, so they’ll be ready to rise and shine in spring.

Spring: Right before spring buds start to bloom is a perfect time to plant in most areas of North America. Trees are still dormant until new growth appears.

Summer: Balled-and-burlapped trees can be planted in yards in spring or early summer. You should wait until the heat of summer has passed to plant any other trees or shrubs.

Fall: September through December is the right time to plant in hotter climates of the South and West—without the heat of summer and before the colder weather sets in. Roots grow best when the soil temperature is at least 40 degrees. Then they have the winter months to become established in the ground in time to fully surge come spring.

Other Planting Tips

  • Plant a tree grown in a container any time of the year, except when the ground is frozen.
  • Trees sap that still flows in late winter—such as birch and sugar maple—should be planted after the flow of sap stops.
  • Help protect young thin-bark trees—such as maples and fruit trees—by wrapping the trunk for the first winter or two after planting. You can wrap as early as Thanksgiving, but be sure to remove the wrapping once spring arrives to prevent insect infestations and disease.
  • You can also create a barrier fence around the trunk to prevent hungry animals from getting to your newly planted trees.
  • Plant trees with fleshy roots—like magnolias—after their leaves have expanded slightly.
  • Plants don’t need to be staked when planted in the spring, summer, or fall. Let them move and bend to develop their strength.
  • Deeply water newly planted trees and shrubs during the first year after planting. Evergreens need more water in the fall, and all plants need a good drink during the spring growing season.
  • Add a two to three inch ring of mulch around the newly planted tree or shrub that reaches as far as the branches. Mulch provides much needed nutrients to the soil and helps prevent weeds.

The right season depends on what you’re planting. No matter what you put in the ground, make sure you have a plan and think about the best place to plant it. Its healthy future depends on you.

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