NORMAN — I say this every fall, but I love this time of year. Time to turn off the AC, open the windows, and put on your gardening hat— you can actually bear to work outside again! Whether you want to establish a new bed, or renovate a corner of the garden, September through December is the ideal time to plant trees and woody shrubs.
Even though the canopy of trees and shrubs may look bare and dead during the fall and winter months, plant roots are a different story. Woody plant roots will continue to grow and multiply down to a 40 degree soil temperature. In Oklahoma, especially Cleveland County, the soil rarely ever gets below this temperature. Planting now gives woody perennials a chance to establish a good root system, to better support the plant and surge of spring growth. A good root system makes for decreased environmental stressors and happy plants. Less stress can also means a lower chance of insect and disease infestation down the road.
Container grown trees and shrubs are sold everywhere in many of varieties. Take the time to inspect the group of plants and choose one in the best health. Do not choose plants that have any visible signs of insect or disease damage, trunk damage, or overall poor health. Inspect the plant roots of container grown plants and avoid those with circling roots or roots coming out the drain holes. In addition, if the plant is “pot-bound” where the roots are visible and formed to the shape of the pot, be sure to cut or break those apart before planting.
Balled and burlapped (B&B) trees are also better planted this time of year. In some cases up to 95 percent if the root system is chopped and lost with B & B plants. Planting B & B plants now allows recovery time for the root system. Also, plant as soon as possible and keep the root ball moist. Remove any twine or wire baskets to prevent damage or girdling. Always plant bare root plants like roses, fruit, and nut trees during dormancy, usually late winter to early spring.