Fall vs Spring planting

When we lived in the UK, planting is usually, if not always done autumn. Experts over there says that it is the best time and also gives the plants ahead start.

When we moved over here I noticed that this is not typically done and not very popular. What are your very own thoughts on this subject? thanks!

Apples, pears & blueberries can handle fall planting if you are Zone 7 or higher. Lower than that might be more risky. American winters can be harsh.

I understand apples in particular enjoy a fall planting, and will even develop an expanded root system during the winter (unless the frost penetrates too deeply during especially cold periods)


@Matt_in_Maryland thanks for the info. I suppose they need more time to get established before winter arrives :frowning:

Potted trees are sold here, in zone 5, for fall plantings. Bare root trees are not a good idea and I don’t believe you can buy any at that time of year anyhow.

Fall planting at my house if possible. I feel like the trees do get an edge on growth for the following year. Bill

I planted a pear last fall and another pear this spring. They both suffered extreme transplant shock and the one planted this spring (2 months ago) still looks pretty pathetic. I feel like the one planted last fall had plenty of time to recover which allowed it to set a handful of fruit this year.

Just anecdotal, but enough for me to want to plant non-bare-root trees in fall.

I’m a bit north of you in s.e. CT. and I just love fall planting vs. the spring! This is a clip from my old GW post…

In Nov. 2012 a week or two before Thanksgiving I planted five trees and they are all still alive and kicking as of today with no problems! Three euro pears from Millers…Collette, Moonglow and Max-Red Bartlett. A hybrid plum and an asian-euro hybrid both from Stark Bros…Bubblegum plum and Maxie pear.

You can now add to that list the following from fall of 2014 and all are still alive today and leafing out :smiley:
Stark® HoneyGlo™ Miniature Nectarine
Tasty Red™ Urban Apple®

Where you are located go for fall planting and don’t worry about it…Stark Bros and Grandpa’s do fall shipping of bare roots.

Here is a long link for a research about the influence of planting season on selected growth parameters for trees planted in January (winter) or March (spring) of 2004 and measured in August of 2004 and 2005.


Given my druthers, I’d rather plant here in the very late fall than the spring. I feel like spring planted trees, whether bare root or potted, take an intense amount of effort and coddling throughout their first spring and summer in the ground here. I believe that those planted at the very end of November through December have a better opportunity to get their root system established in my clay soil before they have to handle our summer heat and lack of rain. I worry less about winter survival in this area than I do summer survival. Also, it’s easier on me, since nature tends to provide sufficient water during the winter and spring.

I think each state has its own Arbor Day based on what is supposed to be the best time for tree planting in that state overall. I know that many, especially larger, states have very diverse growing conditions within the state. Our Arbor Day is in December.

The difficult part about preferring late autumn is that the variety available seems to be more limited.

Maybe I could use some clarification here but some of these concepts seem contradictory. When the leaves fall and the tree goes dormant what exactly happened during the winter. The word dormant seems to imply the tree sort of hibernates and does nothing, yet Muddy and several others talk about the merits of fall planting giving the tree all winter to establish it’s roots and get ahead of the pack come spring. This kind of implies that the tree is not really dormant or hibernating and it’s actually working and strengthening itself.

This big nurseries pluck trees during the dormant season and put them in cold storage. Obviously they aren’t getting anything from the soil or any fertilizer and they do just fine come spring. So this kind of implies that they really are dormant and do not need anything. If the tree stays in the ground is it really dormant?

The top is dormant but the roots can grow some during winter depending on soil temperature. Roots certainly won’t grow in freezing soil but will grow some if the soil isn’t frozen. Just how much I don’t know. I’d suspect it’s also dependent on species.

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Speedster, my ground doesn’t freeze. We do get bouts of freezing temperatures here, but they don’t last long enough to freeze the ground. Our winter is more like spring in the north, with both cold and really nice days, except that our day length is shorter than northern spring day lengths. However, our winter daylight hours are longer, with the sun higher in the sky, than northern days.

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Fall planting works OK ----until the winter it goes to 20 below. Then you wish you had waited until spring.

I thought i would revive this post to report my experience with fall planting last year.

Trees planted- apples (honeycrisp,liberty, Williams Pride, Sweet sixteen), pears (krazulya, vekovaya), Jap/amer hybrid plums, japanese plums (including satsuma & Elephant heart & some pluots)

Weather- I planted in early November. We had a cold spell that followed about 10 days after planting where temperatures fell to about 15F to 30F for the remainder of November (winter came early and never left). The coldest temperature experienced at my site was -4F.We had our usual winter thaws and a cold, wet spring.

Other notes: the trees were heavily mulched, first with compost then with 6" of wood chips.

Everything that was planted survived. There was roughly 20 trees total that went in.

The only tree that died in the orchard was a rainier cherry that had been struggling for a year anyway.


Were they potted or bare root?

I’m planning to transplant some small trees from my in-ground nursery bed.

I’m starting to believe that fall planting is better for my area than spring planting. I haven’t done all that many plantings but the few I have planted in spring went through a bigger transplant shock that those planted in fall. Only exception was the Contender peach tree that I planted this spring. It grew about 3 feet and also gave 7 fruits. It was a potted tree.

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All bareroot. The stone fruit were on Krymsk 1, P.americana and myro. Apples and pears were seedlings.

Which hardiness zone are you in for Prince Edward island 5b or 6a?


the few times i planted in the fall gave me 0 success here. anything planted after aug. 1 won’t make it no matter how hardy they are. just too cold.

I’ve noticed this too where trees planted in fall take off much faster the following spring. The earlier they go into the ground the better. It’s unfortunate that a lot of nurseries don’t send out plants until after February to the Northeast. Some like OGW didn’t send my order until middle of May this past spring when temps were already in the high 70’s. The bareroot, dormant trees did not appreciate that.

I do wait to plant more sensitive trees, in terms of cold hardiness, like figs. I prefer to plant them in the spring, so they can get some size on them before winter.

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