Late Season Planting: Tips for Success

Late Season Planting While many think that the planting season comes to a full halt in fall, it can actually be a great time to plant shrubs, trees and certain other plants. There are also a number of excellent benefits to late-year planting. November and even December can be great months to plant, as long as you follow a few tips to keep plants happy and healthy.

Weather Conditions

To have success in late-season planting, you need consider the conditions. Cold, wet weather is ideal for tree planting, which makes some of the fall days perfect for putting in plants. Ideally, you want to plant four to six weeks before the hard frost is expected, but Today’s Homeowner suggests that as long as the ground is workable, you can plant at nearly any time.


While rainfall typically increases in fall, you still need to check to your shrubs, trees or plants get adequate water. Water any new plants every week or every other week until the ground is frozen. You should also water heavily ahead of a heavy freeze to help keep them moist and hydrated.

Treat Plants Gently

To help plants establish growth late in the season, be very gentle when planting them, taking great care with the roots. Avoid pruning or additional handling of the plant until it has had a chance to truly establish itself. Any minor damage during planting can linger for months and even lead to long-term effects if you’re not careful.

Skip the Fertilizer

The soil temperatures are warmer than the air temperatures in fall, which encourages root growth, so there’s no need to add any fertilizer to your new plants. Adding some compost or bone meal can help promote root growth, allowing the shrub, bush or tree to better establish in the waning days of growing season, but avoid adding fertilizer until spring.

Insulate Your Plants

Apply mulch around newly planted shrubs or trees to help keep the roots more insulated from the cold. Especially cold-sensitive plants may require additional steps, and Today’s Homeowner says that adding a wrap or blanket of burlap during especially cold days or nights can provide extra protection. Make sure to remove the cover in the mornings, though, so the plants can take advantage of the sunlight.

While it may be at the tail end of the planting season for this year, there’s still time to get some plants in the ground and have a head start for next spring. If you’ll be doing any late-year planting, follow these tips to help ensure the success of your new plants.

Looking ahead to next year or thinking of doing some year-end planting still? Shop Cold Stream Farm’s inventory online today. We’re still taking orders for many different species for this fall, as well as reservations for spring 2017 plants. Call us today at 231-464-5809 to learn more.