The lone voice of horticultural reason

Don’t plant a tree for Arbor Day.

It’s not that I have anything against planting trees, it’s just that if every state in America is going to celebrate an Arbor Day, it should be sometime in the fall, the preferred season for tree planting.

I guess we have to blame Nebraska politician Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902) who proposed the first Arbor Day and honed in on the month of April. On Nebraska’s first Arbor Day, over a million trees were planted. In the years to follow, every state in America followed suit, all of them choosing to celebrate Arbor Day in the springtime for their region.

All very commendable, except for the fact that spring is a rotten time to plant a tree. Trees planted in the spring only have a few months to develop a root system before the onslaught of summer heat. Trees planted in early fall will have a much higher chance of survival, because they have around three months to settle in before slipping into winter dormancy, followed by an additional three or four months of spring root development before the high stress of summer.

So think grand and loving thoughts about the planet this Arbor Day, but wait until fall to plant that tree.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener