Why Summer Can Be a Good Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs
Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Summer
There are times in a person’s life when it occurs to them that breaking a rule or two is a good thing. One such example is the long-held belief that planting in the summer is a bad idea. The rule of thumb has always been to plant in spring and fall when the weather is cooler. While spring and fall are great times of the year to plant it's my belief that summer may be just as good for most gardeners.
I don’t recommend digging and dividing your collection of hellebore or hosta, or moving the antique rose handed down through generations of your family but you can successfully plant new perennials, trees, and shrubs in the heat of summer. Any shock to a plant from planting a container shrub is essentially eliminated since you didn't actually dig up the plant or hopefully didn’t even disturb the roots when carefully removing it from the pot. Summer conditions may still cause new plantings some stress, but with a little bit of extra care on your part, it will help the plant develop a healthy root system and virtually guarantee successfully surviving its first winter due to extra root growth.
A professor of mine in college used to tell us that summer was the best time of the year to plant because most plants have flowered or finished their flush of soft new growth. Plants are no longer using tremendous amounts of energy to flower or grow stems and leaves and can now devote energy to growing roots. This actually makes great sense if you think about how temperamental plants can be about water during flowering periods or periods of growth. Have you ever forgotten to water your newly planted spring blooming azaleas only to come home to find all the flower petals on the ground below it? Crape Myrtles are a plant that comes to mind immediately when I think of summer planting. Summer is the best time to plant Crape Myrtles for instance. Crape Myrtles love to grow roots when the ground is warm so use that to your advantage.
Planting in the summer only requires a slight bit more work on your part but will reward you with a hardy plant with a good root system.
How to Plant Trees & Shrubs in the Summer
- Dig the hole as you would any time of year, and always remember wider but not deeper.
- Amend the soil you remove from the hole with a good compost or topsoil. A mix of half existing soil and half good compost is perfect. This will help the soil surrounding the new plant to retain more moisture which means fewer trips with the hose. This is also a good time to remind you of Bio-tone fertilizer. Bio-tone helps grow roots which are what you want when first planting.
- Create a ring just outside the back-filled hole using the extra soil. Two or three inches are all that’s needed. This will help the water you put on the plant to stay in the planting area and not run off. If you have a heavy watering hand and tend to over water summer is also good for you because it’s difficult to over water in the summer.
- Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. Mulch will help keep the moisture that you add to stay in the ground longer since the air and the sun will not be working against you by drying the ground out.
- Last but far from least water. Plants need water and I’d bet that you’re still watering the plants you planted this spring. For the first week or so yes summer planted plants will need slightly more water but after that water as normal and watch your plants they’ll let you know how they are doing. Spring growth that is now beginning to harden off is much more forgiving of a little less water. Use a soaker hose if you’re planting a hedge or privacy screen, just come home from work and turn on the spigot and let it run for an hour or two. If your planting single plants take advantage of our gator bag watering systems, Just fill the bag with the hose and the rest is taken care of.
So there it is, I’m not seeing any extra work involved. It's work I normally do when I plant new plants in the garden in spring or fall. Hopefully, you now understand how easy it is to summer plant and will reap the real benefits of it. My favorite benefit of summer planting is the days are longer and I can stay in the garden longer each day.
The bottom line is: Don’t be afraid. Get out there and plant in the summer, and remember you can always email me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org about summer planting or anything you need to know for that matter.
Until Next time.
Your friend in the “summer” garden,