It is important to know when to plant a tree in order to give it the greatest chance of success.
Container Grown Trees
Container grown trees, with sufficient aftercare can be planted out at just about any time of year. If planted during the warmer months it is of utmost importance to ensure that the tree is watered generously enough to allow the roots to provide the leaves and shoots with sufficient hydration. This is a case of judgement rather than a hard and fast rule.
The best time to plant a bare-rooted or root balled deciduous tree is in September/ October when the tree is approaching dormancy. The roots will continue to grow, slowly, even with a bare canopy. This root growth will give the tree the opportunity to gather water and nutrients before it goes into full dormancy. Roots will continue to grow if the soil temperature exceeds 5℃. A tree can be planted any time up until bud break in March/ April.
Evergreen trees are different. These should not be planted in the depths of winter when they do not tend to succeed, but early autumn or late spring. This gives them the best chance of taking on water and nutrients.
Trees should ideally be planted in unfrozen, moist soils. Water-logged soils should be avoided as this will stop the roots respiring. If an area is prone to wet soils then selecting the correct species for the conditions is important. The Blue Tree Company can advise on all matters relating to tree selection, planting and aftercare including formative pruning.
Reasons For Planting A Tree
The other answer to the question ‘when to plant a tree?’ is – now! There are a massive number of compelling reasons why you should plant a tree. These range from combating climate change, preventing flooding, encouraging wildlife and improving health and well-being. The potential downsides of tree ownership are mitigated by seeking expert advice and selecting the right species for the right locations.
Our trees are grown in our patented Light pots with a fully functional unwound root system so can be planted at any time of year. That’s why so many of our trees end up decorating summer wedding venues! However, planting a tree in full leaf in the summer is dependent on frequent watering to enable the roots to provide enough hydration to its growing shoots and leaves. Some species, like Platanus hispanica (London Plane) routinely defoliate when planted in full leaf only to re-shoot later. The best time to plant a deciduous tree is when it is approaching dormancy in late September/October. The roots carry on growing after planting even though they haven’t got a canopy full of leaves to support.
Trees are like hibernating animals, tucking themselves with nutrient before winter which can then be used to tick it though the cold dormant months. Autumn root growth gives the tree an ability to cram itself with food and hydration so planting a tree at a time to take advantage of this process is ideal. When winter hits, a tree will go into full dormancy but will still root, albeit very slowly, when soil temperatures are over five degrees Celsius. A deciduous tree can be planted very successfully all the way up to when it breaks dormancy in March / April.
However, this is not true of evergreen trees! These are best planted either in September/October to take advantage of autumn rooting or else from March through to May. If you plant an evergreen tree in the depths of winter it can sulk and decline. Always take evergreens when they are on the rise, not when they close down for the winter.
There are always exceptions to the above and for coastal or heavily exposed sites. For these, it is always best to plant a deciduous or evergreen tree in the spring, just before the emergence of new season leaves. This saves the tree from being hammered by inclement conditions all winter long which can deplete food reserves and lessen vigour.
So, in summary, the best time to plant a tree are:
– Deciduous trees in early autumn through to early spring
– Evergreen trees in early autumn or late spring.