Tips for Planting Trees in Late Fall

One of the best times for planting trees, shrubs, and other plants is late fall or early winter. There are a number of excellent benefits to late-year planting even in the late Fall season.

Trees and shrubs planted during this time will focus on creating a solid foundation by deeply rooting themselves. This is not really a season for exponential growth because plants become slightly dormant during this time, but their energy will be used to create deep roots. This will provide you with a better bloom for the spring. It also helps take some of the pressure off you as a gardener because you will not have to water them as often.

If you are planting this season, here are a few tips to ensure they grow strong and healthy:

Weather Conditions

To have success in late-season planting, you need to 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 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 to 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 the 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, like 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. You can also use your fall leaves that you’ve raked as a natural mulch. This is a great way to save some money on additional mulch.

If you’ll be doing any late-year planting, follow these tips to help ensure the success of your new plants!

Cold Stream Farms sells high-quality shrubs and trees at wholesale prices. Shop Cold Stream Farm’s inventory online today. We specialize in offering a wide variety of trees, shrubs and more that will make a great addition to any yard. Place an order online now or call us today at 231-464-5809 to learn more!  Check out our planting supplies for help with maintaining your garden!