The Richmond Register

September 17, 2013

Plant trees, shrubs in the fall

By Amanda Sears
Special to the Register

RICHMOND — Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs.

The cooler temperatures make this an ideal growing condition for these woody plants, which leads to the development of a good root system.

Woody plants are sold three different ways: container grown, balled and burlapped or bare-root.

Container grown plants tend to be smaller and can be kept easily until planting as long as they are properly watered. The plants are grown in the same pot from seeding to transplant.

However, once planted it often takes time for the roots to break out of their artificial media, which means that watering is very important. Another method of loosening the root ball is to cut or pull some of the roots loose.

The balled-and-burlapped plant is cut and dug at the nursery then placed in a burlap sack for sale. It is best to keep these woody plants in the shade until planting, which should be done as soon as possible.

Do not drop the soil ball directly into the ground, or it may crack. Instead, lower it gently into the hole. Also, do not pick up the plant by holding the trunk.

If the tree or shrub is wrapped in a material that will decompose quickly, it may be buried with the tree. The rule to abide by is if it does not rot, remove it. Any metal or synthetic/plastic burlap should be disposed of before planting.

Bare-root plants should be kept at 40 degrees F until they are sold. The tree or shrub should be planted while in its dormant stage. It is best to plant bare-root plants in spring. These plants must be handled with care.

Be sure to choose a site where soil is deep, fertile and well drained. When digging the hole, make it large enough to hold the roots without manipulating or breaking them. Container grown or balled and burlapped plants should be planted as deep as the root ball. Bare root plants should be planted a little deeper than the root system.

To learn more about trees and shrubs that do well here in Kentucky, visit