Can I plant trees in the fall?

Asked September 15, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

Can fruit trees from a nursery be successfully planted in the fall? Or should I wait until spring for the best chance?

Eaton County Michigan

1 Response

Yes you can plant trees in the fall especially if they are already growing in a pot. Most tree growth in the fall is in the roots when the soil is warm and the top of the tree is preparing for winter. Planting them in the fall allows the root system to establish itself and for the tree to get off to a good start. In Michigan, we are reluctant to recommend fall planting because we worry about winter injury. Spring planting should take place before growth begins in the spring and if the tree is leafed out and growing it is usually too late for the root system to catch up with the top growth so the tree is stunted.
So you can plant now. Dig a hole larger than the volume of the pot and water trees in but do not fertilize or prune the tree as this will reduce the winter hardiness. Fertilize and prune in the early spring before growth begins.