Should shrubs be planted in fall or spring?

Fall is the best time to plant When adding trees and shrubs to your garden, planting in fall offers several benefits. It's an ideal time for you, as all the hard work of spring gardening and summer maintenance will come to an end, plus it's the best time for the tree. More importantly, however, planting shrubs in fall allows plants to establish an extensive root system before winter sets in. Studies show that the roots of plants that grow only in native soil did a better job of settling down and expanding beyond the original hole.

This situation really helps you as a gardener: in the fall you can clear your cultivation site one weekend and plant the next. If you're waiting for a large tree to grow to maturity, you can often meet your need for shade in the meantime with a well-placed, fast-growing shrub, such as elderberry or butterfly shrub. You won't see much growth above ground, but trust us: the roots are blooming and will do better than plants that are just starting to pull them out in the spring. Weed control in fall is also easier, since soil weeds are inactive, unlike in spring, when those weeds have a lot of energy and are ready to wreak havoc in the garden.

Buy only plants that have a good structure and are free of diseases and dead or broken branches. So why have I been waiting? Without a doubt, fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs for several reasons. By spring, the result should be a well-established root system with plants better equipped to cope with the upcoming demands of spring and summer. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about planting in fall is the sense of discovery experienced when watching your new shrubs wake up in spring.

If you find tender shrubs that you didn't have time to get into the ground and winter is approaching, it's best to place the pot on a couple of bricks to make sure the drainage holes are clear and cover it with a thick layer of mulch for the winter, also making sure that there's no shade of rain. After planting, new trees and shrubs should be watered abundantly and consistently, applying enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of eight to ten inches at least once a week. If a long period of rain is immediately followed by hot, dry summer weather, new trees and shrubs may be affected. Plants that start root development in fall will be better suited to summer's climate challenges.

It's better to be realistic about these factors and choose shrubs that thrive on them, than to take care of a shrub in a site you don't like; neither of you will be very happy in the end.

Natalie Shimabukuro
Natalie Shimabukuro

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