Autumn Growth

Fall is in full swing and now is a great time to think about planting new shrubs and trees in your landscape.

Many experts agree that in the fall, tree and shrub roots are naturally growing aggressively, aided by warm soil and cooler, wetter weather. The cooler temps that fall brings are best for new root growth. Keep newly planted trees or shrubs well watered until the ground freezes so they get a good start before going into full dormancy during winter.

Midwest Gardening gives us a few points to keep in mind regarding planting shrubs or trees in the Fall: Firstly, allow about six weeks for roots to establish before the ground freezes. For evergreens, allow about eight weeks to establish roots and soak in plenty of water to sustain the needles through winter.

Make sure to water trees and shrubs thoroughly and deeply each week for the first 3 or 4 weeks. Then, back off so the plant can start its’ natural dormancy process. Water evergreens right up until the ground freezes. Evergreens will continue to supply the needles with water until the roots are frozen. If you do plant a bit too late, mulch heavily to keep the soil warm longer. The roots will continue to grow until the ground freezes.

Container grown plants will establish fairly quickly because they have not had their roots disturbed. Balled and burlapped or transplanted shrubs and trees will go through the stress of their roots being cut shortly before the stress of the transplant. A little more time to establish will be helpful.

Proper planting and watering are critical if you want healthy, vigorously growing trees and shrubs. Dig a hole twice as wide as the rootball. If you’re planting a tree with a main trunk, gently brush soil away from the stem to find the first root closest to the soil surface. Adjust the soil depth in the planting hole so the first root will be just below the soil surface when you refill the hole.

The next step is to fill the hole. If you wish, add compost, peat and/or composted manure to replace approximately 1/3 of the original soil volume. Never replace all the original soil with black dirt, compost or sand, as distinctly different soils drain unevenly. For proper drainage, it is vital that the soil you use for backfill consists mostly of original soil. Important to note that newly planted trees or shrubs do not need to be fertilized until next year but incorporating a root stimulator and a slow release fertilizer at the time of planting will help the plant establish quickly and be ready to flourish in the spring.

The Mustard Seed carries a wide variety of trees and shrubs along with How-to Plant guides, visit them at