Planting before the ground freezes

Fri. Oct. 9, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Planting before the ground freezes

You can still plant healthy shrubs and trees into November! The ground in our zone 3 and 4 climates doesn’t “generally” freeze until late in November and December. That means you can get those great deals at your local nursery and get them in the ground. Now’s a good time to also see what areas of your yard “need” something!

When shopping, don’t be afraid to take the plants out of their container, if you can, to see that the roots are in good shape. They may be root bound.

That’s not a problem unless you can’t be brutal in your root pruning. 

 What you don’t want are yellowing, mushy roots. They won’t establish well. A few roots or mushy is okay but prune them out!

To get your plant out of the container, roll it on the ground to loosen it up.  Dig a hole that’s twice as wide but no deeper than your plant’s container. It’s important to plant your new plant at the same level or even slightly higher than the surrounding soil.

Rolling your plant out of the container:

Sometimes it’s hard for people to do this but those roots at the top are surface roots and you don’t want to bury them. Before planting, pull those longer roots out to the side, not circling. If they’re too long, it’s okay to cut them back to fit the hole.

This time of year, adding fertilizer is not important. What you want is for the roots to establish, not grow more foliage. Water well, let it soak in and then add the rest of the soil and tamp it down. Leave a ditch around the outer edge of your planting hole to allow the water to soak in, not just travel down the lawn.

Depending on the size of plant you’re planting, add a good 3 inches of mulch. Remember donut not volcano.

photo with near pear tree 2006