It is officially Spring 2021 and for most of us in the landscape industry that means gearing up for planting season. While it’s true that fall and winter (dormancy) is typically the best time to plant most trees, there are some that benefit from an early spring planting. Those that have a woodier root system with fewer fibrous roots are naturally slower at establishing than many other trees. They are more likely to suffer drought damage if planted too far into the cold months. When the moisture in the ground is frozen, it’s unavailable to the young tree and can dry the roots out very quickly.

Some trees that prefer spring planting include:

  • bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)
  • American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
  • ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • magnolia 
  • hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
  • sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
  • rhododendrons and yews (Taxus) also prefer spring planting

However, trees can suffer drought damage if planted too late in the spring as well. We all know how quickly the weather can change in the St. Louis area from chilly to sweltering heat! A good rule of thumb is when you’re spring-planting trees, get them in the ground before the buds break. That way the tree has time to settle into its new location before heavy spring rains and heat trigger top growth. However, both container trees and healthy B&B trees can be planted well into the growing season as long as proper care and watering is maintained.