Wednesday, November 8th, 2006...11:57 am

The latest time of year to plant shrubs and bushes in the Mid-Atlantic

Today received this question from Stephanie:

I was wondering what the latest time of year in the Mid-Atlantic region that you should plant shrubs and bushes. 

Before I answer Stephanie’s specific question, I want to tell both Stephanie and all my readers about one of the best, if not the best, gardening resource to go to or to call with any and all questions related to gardening. This is the organization called the Master Gardeners. 

The Master Gardener organization, which is in every state including Puerto Rico, is part of each state’s university agricultural extension. The MG organization is also in Canada and is now starting in England.  The Master Gardeners (MGs) are avid gardeners or lovers of horticulture who are provided with intense horticultural training in order to answer any and all gardening questions. MGs, who are volunteers, do phone and walk in diagnostic service, give or assist with giving garden lectures, exhibits, and demonstrations, research and many other projects.  Even after the intense training and an MG is certified, even after an MG gets Life membership which means 1000 hours of volunteer work, the MGs’ education, at least in NJ, must continue if they wish to remain a volunteer in the MG program. MGs are EAGER to help answer questions for anyone who needs help in the garden; with plants,shrubs and trees both indoor and out; with insect, fungus, bacteria or any pest problems both indoor and out, etc.  And the best surprise is that most of what is done by the volunteers is FREE to the community. Look in your telephone book or google up Master Gardeners for your local MG office and telephone number or website. If you have a problem finding your local MGs, I will try to get this info for you. Any garden website, nursery, college extension or any knowledgeable garden or horticultural person should know about the MGs. If they don’t know about the MG program, I would be wary of their expertise.  Even Ralph Snodsmith, the first person with a horticultural radio show that has been on the air for 50 years, will tell call-ins to go to their MG Helpline if he cannot answer a question.  And Ralph Snodsmith’s knowledge is extraordinary; I love his show and recommend your listening to it. And I cannot recommend the MG program highly enough.

Now to answer Stephanie’s question. 

When you asked about the latest time of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region that you should plant shrubs and trees, I have to think that you know all about how to plant shrubs and tree; for example, with a hole that is not too small but that is big enough but not too big as well as being deep enough but no deeper than it was planted before, etc. Two websites on how to plant shrubs and trees are here and here

Then the latest you can plant the shrubs and trees in your area is the latest you can dig the soil. When the soil is rock solidly frozen, you will destroy your back trying to plant anything. So if your soil is still workable, you can still plant your shrubs or trees. Let’s say you had dug the proper size hole for the shrub or tree in the proper location for that plant to thrive and had saved the soil from the hole and then you had such a heavy frost so that the ground is frozen solid but for some reason you had not yet planted the shrub or tree; you can still put the shrub or tree in the hole so long as the saved soil is not frozen and you can pack it around the newly planted shrub or tree. Thus the limit is your being physically able to dig the soil.

That being said, the MGs of Mercer County, NJ have a list of trees that are NOT to be planted or transplanted in the fall. These trees will NOT do well if they are planted in the fall.
The trees that Should Only be Planted in the Spring are:
Trident Maple tree (just this one maple tree)
Birch tree
Hornbeam tree
Hackberry tree
Katsura tree
Hawthorne tree
Goldenrain Tree
Weeping Willow tree
Linden tree
Chinese or Lacebark Elm tree
Silverbell tree
Sweetgum tree
Tulip Tree
All apple, peach and pear trees
Black Tupello tree
ALL oak tree varieties
Mountain Ash tree
Zelcova tree

Hope’s response was helpful. If you have more questions or if I did not satisfactorily answer your question, please don’t hesitate to email me again.

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