With so many factors involved for various species, it can be hard to determine the best time to plant trees in Ontario. Generally, most species do best when transplanted during their dormant season. With some exceptions, trees go dormant during the colder winter months. Just as bears hibernate, trees slow down their growth, metabolism, and energy consumption. For best results, plant a tree during its dormant period and before the ground freezes for the first time in winter.
Generally speaking, if you are planting deciduous trees, the spring season is ideal. You must wait for the ground to be completely frost-free before planting. You may also consider planting during fall. When the leaves start to fall but before the temperatures drop enough to freeze the ground, is a good time to plant these trees.
Although spring and fall are the best planting times, trees can be planted throughout the summer months as well, as long as they are dug in the dormant season. When planting in the summer, it is important to be more careful handling and transporting trees, and watering is of the utmost importance.
Planting and Post-Planting Care for Trees
Careful site preparation and planting time contribute to successful tree establishment. By timing the installation correctly, you can avoid post-planting stress. Typically, tree roots begin growing at temperatures above 7.5° C. In order to properly establish, the trees need to penetrate into the new soil. For example, even if you could cut a spade through frozen winter turf, trees planted in temperatures below 5° C require extra aftercare efforts in order to survive.
Transplant shock can last for several years after you install the tree. This depends on the tree size, species, site conditions, and production type (bare-root, balled and burlapped, or wire basket). The arborists and other experts at Dutchmaster Nurseries can help you determine the best time to plant a particular tree. This decision depends on the dormant period of that species as well as the current weather conditions.
Newly installed trees often require staking. Here are some key factors to consider with regards to staking:
- Is the tree in a windy area?
- Which direction is the wind usually coming from?
- How heavy is the root ball in relation to the rest of the tree?
- Are there obstacles that protect the tree from wind (ie. buildings, fences)?
- Is the tree likely to settle given the soil conditions?
- Are there any other factors on the planting site that could affect the tree?
It’s important to manage disease, pests, and damage in a timely, watchful manner.
Do you have questions about which tree species are the best fit for your planting site? Our team can help you determine the best time to plant them.