The Best Time to Plant a Tree

The Best Time to Plant a Tree
ginkgo seedling--wikimedia commons

Fall is often considered the best time of year to plant new trees. Late August, September and October have good gardening weather, here. There may be rain for the new plants, and still mild days and sun. The hottest days of summer are past, and the ground isn’t frozen yet.

Fall  is the season gone to seed. The fluff of milkweeds on the wind, the rattling seed pods of the indigo plant, the plumes of blooming grasses, and all kinds of burrs and sticker seeds!

For oak trees, this is the season of acorns.  Red maple and sugar maple trees drop their seeds like tiny helicopters. These are called samaras.  The samaras are so good at flight, they have been studied for aerodynamic  designs. You may find acorns and maple seedlings along the city parkways, or in your yard, if you’re fortunate enough to have one.

What are some good trees to plant now? Maples, crabapples, oaks and ginkgo, to name a few. Ginkgo are especially resilient to road salt and pollution. They are slow-growing, but they can live a very long time. Some trees in Japan are reported to be over 1000 years old. You can read more about  the ginkgo here.

When is the best time to plant a tree? The old saying is–twenty years ago.  But what we can do now will shape the future, the climate, the earth we share with the trees, breathing in and out with them. The best time to plant a tree is now.



Like this? Why not subscribe? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.



Leave a comment
  • I had an instance of when not to plant a tree. After a tree surgeon did the timber sports challenge in the community association, I decided that I didn't want to see a pile of chips or a stick outside my patio doors, and offered to buy rose bushes if the association landscaper would plant them. The yellow ones looked a bit scrawny,* but I noticed last weekend that I had a new yellow flower. The red one has several new buds, too.

    Also, related to acorns, there was a squirrel scratching its hindquarter, like it were a dog.

    *I made sure to soak them daily during August, but they appear well established now.

  • Thank you for reading, Jack. Much appreciated!
    I'm so glad about the roses. May they give you years of enjoyment.
    Yes, squirrels are real characters. They will eat avocado pits. And they love to play!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Darn! Neither Sara Moulton nor Pati Jinich mentioned that method of recycling avocado pits.

  • You can also plant them and grow avocado plant--but they need a lot of sun, and big pots.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Probably too cold here.

    When I kid, I was told you can plant watermelon seeds. I got one ripe watermelon, about the size of a grape.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, it's much too cold to grow avocados outside here. No banana trees, either, alas.
    I think a lot of the produce we get is hybrid stock, like that watermelon. If you can get the seeds to germinate at all, you're doing well.
    That's why heirloom things are popular, now. You can grow tomatoes from the seeds of that heirloom tomato you just enjoyed.

  • This is lovely. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that if he knew he would die tomorrow, he would plant a tree. It does take faith.

    As for avocado plants, I loved growing them in high school -- I would leave for five hours of summer school and come home to a visibly taller plant with bigger leaves. I think they eventually ran into trouble when I couldn't get a big enough pot anymore, but each had several good years in the pots I had. I got good biology and botany lessons, too.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Yes! I too would plant a tree. You're so right--- in many ways, gardening, and farming, is an act of faith. It is never done, and you hope for better next year.
    Well-done to grow the avocados. This year I tried growing some again. I definitely need bigger pots. And more sun.

Leave a comment