Whether you’re planting newly purchased trees and shrubs or transplanting some from one location in your yard to another, fall in general is a good time to plant. By planting in fall, you are allowing the tree or shrub to settle in at a time when it is relatively dormant but the roots are still growing. Planting in the fall is especially considered a good idea in areas where the summers can be extreme, such as the Southeast, because it allows time for the tree or shrub to prepare for the heat (and possibly drought) stress of next summer.
There are some variations to be aware of:
Because evergreen trees and shrubs take more time to get established after planting, it’s better to plant or transplant them in early autumn—after summer heat is gone, but early enough for full establishment before winter. The roots should have a month or more to grow into the soil before their growth is slowed by low temperatures.
Mid-autumn is better for containerized or balled-and-burlapped deciduous trees and shrubs because they’re dormant then. Leafless trees and shrubs draw less water and nutrients from the roots and recover more easily from transplant shock.
Bare-root trees and shrubs usually become available in garden centers and from mail order nurseries in late winter. They should be planted then, while they are dormant and before growth begins.
For all of these forms of trees and shrubs, follow the planting directions on our Web site and plant on cool days. To really help those roots get established, mix garden soil for trees, shrubs & ornamentals with the soil in the planting holes, then sprinkle plant food around the trees and shrubs after planting.