Did you know that the autumn season can actually be a great time of the year to add new plants to your landscape? To help get you started, here are a few key recommendations from the team at The Arboretum to help guide you through the fall planting season!

A few of our favorite trees to plant in the fall in Ohio:

  • Maple trees
    • Maple trees are a great tree to plant in the fall. We are preferential to the sugar and red maples due to the many different varieties. Somerset red maples can be especially breathtaking, and will do nicely when planted in the fall.
  • Linden Trees
    • Another great tree to plant in the fall in Ohio is the Linden tree. Lindens provide a wonderful display throughout the year and have a beautiful yellow hue in the fall. 
  • Sycamore Trees
    • If you are looking for a more traditional Ohio tree, we would recommend planting a sycamore or two this fall. 
  • Frontier Elms
    • The frontier elm has an excellent reddish-purple to burgundy fall color, and is very tolerant of a number of common stresses as well.
  • Swiss Stone Pine
    • The swiss stone pine is a beautifully under used conifer in the Ohio landscape, but it is still a great option for a fall planting season. We are currently particularly interested in a certain variety called the Prairie Statesman. It features a narrow, upright shape with a silvery-blue foliage.

Our most important pieces of advice when planting in the fall for the first time:

  • Find and expose the root flare, especially on balled and burlapped trees.
  • Never plant a tree with the root flare of the trunk below the grade of the soil.
  • Check your root system for tangled, knotted, or girdling roots in plants that have spent time in a container.
  • Don’t be scared to cut off up to two inches (no more) of the root mass on all sides of a plant that has spent time in a container. This will help stimulate root growth if the plant has experienced any tangling, knotting, or girdling.
  • Water new plantings shallowly, but often at first. After a while, move to a more irregular pattern with a deeper watering to mimic natural rainfall.
  • Water until the ground freezes.
  • Plant evergreens late summer to early fall, they can be a bit slower to produce new roots than deciduous trees. Provide them with adequate time to get established before the onset of winter.
  • Don’t stop providing care for your trees because the leaves fell off. Planting is stressful on a plant, no one likes the moving process, be sure to prepare the planting hole properly, install smoothly, and provide excellent aftercare. The less stress you put on the plant the more successful the establishment phase will be. 

A few common issues people run into when planting in the fall in Ohio:

  • Depending too much on seasonal rainfall and not watering adequately or long enough into the winter tends to be a reoccurring problem. 
    • Trees planted in the early fall and watered into the winter, even past the first freeze have a better chance of surviving heat and drought the following season. 
  • Choosing the right plant for the right location. 
    • Don’t select a tree in the nursery if you don’t know where you’ll put it in the ground at home. 
    • Know what your site conditions are (wet soil, full sun, part shade, clay soil, poor draining, etc) and select the tree that grows best in that location. 
    • You cannot provide only a few nutrients and water and expect that any tree will grow in most locations. 
  • Listen to your landscape and select the tree with the needs that match what your landscape offers for greatest success and enjoyment.  

Excellent resources for the new and experienced gardener:

  • We definitely recommend our searchable database on our website. The Arboretum Explorer offers the ability to search our plant collections and learn about the plants we have within our collection. 
  • Author Michael A. Dirr has written a number of books that are the pinnacle of tree information. 
  • The Ohio State University has a fabulous website called Buckeye Yard and Garden Online (BYGL) that provides fantastic information. 
  • Your local library is another fantastic resource and a large selection of gardening, plant, and landscape books means there is a lot of community interest on the subject. 

Don’t forget to visit us this fall!

While The Dawes Arboretum is breathtaking in all seasons, we particularly shine in the Autumn months. Our sweetgum collection displays red, purple, orange, burgundy, and yellow leaves shaped like stars throughout September and October.


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