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The Best Time To Plant Trees

Best Time to Plant Trees

At buy-trees-online, we are often asked when the best time to plant trees is. Occasionally, someone may have been speaking to a rather elderly gentleman in a holey jumper in the corner of a dusty pub somewhere who has sworn by the age-old epitaph:

'You can plant trees during any month with an 'R' in it'

This used to be a decent rule of thumb for planting forest trees in the UK and had been followed by foresters since the great Victorian tree planters. The reason behind this planting advice was that the trees were grown en masse in fields and then lifted out of the soil when dormant, ready for re-planting. This method is known as 'bare root' and is still used. Because the roots are cut when the trees are lifted, it is essential that they are dormant so as to minimise damage and it was thought that September to April was the approximate time that this happened. Having had their roots cut, the tree was still under huge stress and losses could be high and it was often the case that the trees were not actually dormant when they were lifted from the nursery.
So in 1988, trees started to be grown in containers, which meant that roots were never cut and could be planted when the trees were not dormant. The growing medium could also hold some moisture, which meant that they could survive even when planted into dry ground. These trees are known as container-grown or cell-grown trees and our sister company, Alba Trees, were the first to bring this concept to UK forestry. These are quite different to pot-grown trees which have no root training and are thus susceptible to becoming pot-bound.

So our cell-grown trees can be planted at any time of year. But when is the optimal time? What gives the best chance of survival? Well you ideally want to allow the tree to grow its roots into the soil without losing a lot of moisture through its leaves so the very best times are either early spring before bud-burst or late autumn as the trees begin to lose their leaves. This is of course presuming that they can't be planted mid-winter when the ground is frozen and the gardener is snuggled in front of the fire! So which is the very best time? Well, the weather has been so varied these last few years that it is best just to plant them whenever it is slightly cold and wet, but if the choice is between Autumn and Spring, then Autumn is probably the best time. The trees will have a few months before deep winter to get their roots down and a couple more months towards the end of winter before bud burst.

So whilst you can plant your trees at any time during the year provided they are watered, just now is the perfect time to get great establishment and get your trees off to a flying start.

20 September 2013 at 17:20 / Comment

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