Fall is an Excellent Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Mark Williams  |  12/5/2014 4:10:48 AM


With the cooler fall weather, many of us are drawn outside to catch up on some of the landscape work that we have put off during the heat of the summer. Fall through winter is an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs in the landscape. The typically milder Louisiana winters allows a tree planted in November to establish their root system in the native soil before the spring growing season.

Some of the most popular and best trees for Louisiana landscapes include the Southern live oak, Southern magnolia (our state flower), bald cypress (our state tree), crape myrtles, deciduous oaks, southern sugar maple, hollies, vitex, Sweetbay magnolia and pines.

Trees and shrubs can be purchased in containers, balled and bur-lapped, and bare root. Today, most trees and shrubs are grown and sold in containers. After the site and plant have been selected, the planting space needs to be prepared for the installation. The hole for the tree should be dug two to three times as wide as the root ball of the plant and should be no deeper than the depth of the root ball in order to maintain the crown at or above the native soil line. Then the container should be removed, and the root system should be inspected. If the plant has a circling taproot at the bottom or edge of the container, the circling taproot should be removed because if the plant is installed with a circling taproot this can lead to the taproot girdling the root system. Place the root ball in the planting hole, and backfill with the native soil. It is not recommended to add organic matter and other soil amendments to the planting hole. Adding soil amendments to the native soil changes the soil texture and can lead to a situation where the planting hole holds water particularly in clay textured soils. The organic amendments are more permeable to water than soils containing clay, so the planting hole will not drain because the surrounding soil will not absorb the water. Although adding organic amendments sounds like a good idea, it can lead to plant loss.

After the hole is backfilled, the plant should be watered thoroughly. This watering eliminates air pockets in the soil that can dry out the root system. Staking the tree may be needed to provide support until it becomes established, but the stakes should be removed when the tree can support itself, which is typically no longer than one growing season. In addition, fertilizers should not be applied during the planting process, and fertilizers should never be applied in the planting hole. The plant should have adequate fertilization that was applied at the nursery. Adding additional fertilization at planting can be detrimental.

Trees are a long-term investment. Select the correct tree to fit your planting location and consider the purpose for which the tree is being planted. Now through February would be a great time to plant.

For more information or related topics contact Mark at 225-389-3055 or visit our website at lsuagcenter.com/eastbatonrouge

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