[NAFEX] Best time to transplant trees/shrubs: Fall or Spring?

Jay Cutts orders at cuttsreviews.com
Thu Aug 18 13:12:45 EDT 2011

For any of you in climates similar to ours in NM, I'd have to say that 
both spring and fall planting are problematic!

Our springs here are dry, unlike most April shower places. We also have 
late frosts relative to the warmth that we can have during the earlier 
spring. A bareroot tree planted out dormant in March or April will 
suffer from occassional lack of water (because of late frost, I can't 
turn on the irrigation system until mid-May) and will probably break 
dormancy early and get smacked by frost and drying winds and sun. Many 
times the plants that I order have already broken dormancy when they 
arrive and they rarely survive. A nurseryman once convinced me to plant 
a dormant tree in February to make sure it was good and dormant but it 
suffered from the above and was dead by May.

I have not typically done fall planting but with our lack of snow cover, 
lack of moisture and strong sun and wind, I doubt that a new tree would 
make it.

I've had to resort to the following method. When a bareroot tree arrives 
in early spring, I pot it up and grow it on in a protected location. 
This means a lot of babying. Once frost danger is well past - which also 
means I can irrigate regularly - I transplant it into its permanent 
place. This method works very well. When I plant the tree up, I put a 
couple layers of newspaper into the pot first. When I'm ready to 
transplant, I let the pot dry somewhat and can then remove mass of soil 
(it of course has not formed a root ball yet) by lifting out the 
newspaper and get the tree into its hole with minimal disturbance.



Jay Cutts
Director, Cutts Graduate Reviews
Lead Author, Barron's Test Prep Publications
800-353-4898 day or eve, 7 days
(In NM, 505-281-0684)

On 8/18/2011 10:56 AM, tanis cuff wrote:
> S. WI, a county or 2 NE of Steve H, I've been using autumn transplanting more&  more.  Tree survival&  next year's growth is about as good as waiting til the "correct" springtime planting.  But, I may be lucky in that the years I've transplanted the most, we've had decent snowfalls before the ground freezes.  I try to mulch well too, but that means good vole protection required.
> For me it depends on other autumn plans vs spring plans.  How busy will I be with other work which MUST be done at only their season?
> Our recent autumns seem to be warmer than the past, and leaves are hanging on longer, especially the nursery stock.  I fertilize only lightly&  only til mid July, but still might have leaves on stuff I want to transplant, into early Nov.  I'm finding good success with transplants moved late but before they look fully dormant.  Water thoughly!
> (Hey Steve!  How's the tree?  Another of the same combo I gave to a Madison yard died above the graft this year.  And one I kept isn't growing...)
> ----------------------------------------
>> From: chandos49
>> To: nafex
>> Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2011 00:53:09 +0000
>> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Best time to transplant trees/shrubs: Fall or Spring?
>> So far I've managed both, here in E. WA, with the majority of plantings in late winter/early spring with dormant stock. Here the ground is wettest (very sandy soil) at the end of winter and spring puts little strain on things, with regular showers through the first half of June. They have a chance to establish well before the 60 day drought we often get in summer. Planting in September is dicy due to dry conditions, but Halloween to Thanksgiving works fine.
>> That said, I've had difficulty on occasion with the soil not rich enough for some things. The ducks continue to improve the yard and the success rate rises.
>> Dave Liezen
>> Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2011 06:11:03 -0500
>> From: loneroc1
>> To: nafex
>> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Best time to transplant trees/shrubs: Fall or Spring?
>> In the north spring is the best time, so the roots have the summer to establish themselves before the harshest season, winter. I hear from southerners that fall is best. The trees take advantage of the mild winter to establish prior to the torrid summers. I suspect that in the northwest that fall would be preferable, since summers are generally rainless. I never transplant anything after the early spring unless absolutely necessary.
>> Steve Herje SW Wisconsin Usda zone 3/4
>> Steven Covacci wrote:
>> When is the best time to transplant deciduous trees/shrubs: Fall or Spring? I figure Fall since there will be days when the temperatures are above 32 F. and root growth can, then, occur; conversely, I would expect spring just in case reduction of feeder roots could be a problem during dry weeks, free of snow cover, when further die-back occurs when the upper-most layer of the ground freezes continually.
>> Thanks,
>> Steve - NJ 6b/7a
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