Thread: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

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  1. #11
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Western NY, Zone 6
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    348

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    Well, I have to admit I simply haven't had any ADF blue spruces survive. I planted 10 last year during the Spring, all died. Then I planted 10 more (replacements for the first 10 that died) on a nicely fertilized soil berm during the Fall (that same year), they all died too. 100% failure rate on ADF blue spruce, so I will not be ordering ADF blue spruce again. I had success with ADF hybrid poplar bare root trees last year - I planted them in pots during the spring which allowed nice root growth, then transplanted them after about a month in the pots. All 5 survived and are budding this year.

    I ordered 10 3-4' tall blue spruce transplants this year from my county as my neighbor did the same thing last year and all of his survived (even though he planted them BELOW grade and they were flooded out a few times, but STILL lived). All his blue spruces pushed out new growth this year.

  2. #12
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Indiana
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    198

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    I was pretty optimistic a few weeks back but I think about a dozen I bought last fall are all dead. Pretty much everything is at least showing signs of leafing out, but not the ones I planted in the fall. Ironically, the free Red Maple and Forsythias are leafing out. The maple was an impressive 4 feet, but the upper 3.5 feet seem to be dead. We had a couple days below -10 this winter. I'm guessing that did them in.

    I won't give up on them just yet as some could send up new shoots, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Speaking of the forsythias, I noticed the little 6 inch forsythias I just planted last week had two flowers each already. Is it common for those things to flower at such a young age? I didn't even notice flowers on the ones I planted a year ago and I didn't really anticipate any yet.

  3. #13
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Western NY, Zone 6
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    348

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    Treefiddy -

    2 of my 3 free Red Maples that I received from ADF last year for Fall planting also appear to be budding, but one definitely looks dead (the smallest red maple of the 3). All 8 of my Willow Oaks are toast, and I don't think any of the 4 Dogwoods I planted during the Fall survived. However, my 2 ADF Sweet Gum trees that were planted last Fall also seem to have survived as the buds are popping right out on them. My soil conditions are ideal for Sweet Gums - low-lying, moist, heavy, rich soil, perhaps why they survived a more harsh than usual winter this year. In all honesty this Winter did seem particularly harsh and we had fairly long cold snaps that were accompanied by strong winds. Some of the bare-root trees I had planted had actually been pulled out of the ground a bit (from the strong winds in my area), even after they had been staked.

    The Forsythias I planted in pots last Spring leafed out this year, but the leaves came in green on all of them, no yellow flowers. I didn't realize they did not flower when they were young, but none of my Forsythias flowered, that's for certain. They are only about 8-10" tall, and were barely 2-3" tall when I received them last year (during the Spring) from ADF.

    As for Fall plantings, I will never plant bare root trees in the Fall ever again. The failure rate is way too high and it's really disappointing to lose 100% of certain species (i.e. blue spruce and willow oak), not to forget the time I spent planting them.

  4. #14
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    I think it's really hit or miss with fall planting. I planted over 100 trees in the fall of '07... only 1 of the 15 oaks I planted is still alive... yet not one of the lilacs or crab apples have died out of about 35 I planted.

    The potted white spruce I planted in Sept '07 did poorly. Only the two that are consistently covered in snow drifts are healthy and green... all the others have seen major needle desiccation.

    I tried again last fall with potted white spruce from the same place... as well as Arborvitae.. and they all did just fine... they're full and green this spring and the new shoots are emerging. At the same time, the other from '07 have suffered another setback.

    It depends on the tree stock you get.

  5. #15
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Indiana
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    198

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    Turns out it was not a total loss for me. I planted 3 Shumard Oaks last fall. 2 of them are finally fixing to leaf out. I'm not sure about the 3rd yet. One Dawn Redwood (out of 2) is showing signs of life with a couple of buds at literally ground level. Some Sweetgums and Black gums are all dead as a doornail, however.

    Spring is the way to go IMO. I have some Swamp White Oaks from the DNR I planted in March that have already sprouted 10-12 inches of new growth.

  6. #16
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
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    348

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    I checked my soil bed yesterday, the Sweet Gums are still in the bud stage so I'm now skeptical of their survival. None of the Dogwoods are showing any signs of life, so I am about to consider those dead too.

    I have a bunch of Sugar Maples that I received from my county this Spring that I will be planting in the soil bed (right now they are in large pots and have leafed out nicely). All my Willow oaks are dead, total bummer. The 10 Colorado blue spruce transplants that I also bought from my county in the spring all look healthy and are budding now (they were still dormant when I received them in late April).

    Yep, no more Fall planting of seedlings for me. The failure rate is near 100%.

  7. #17
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
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    Georgia
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    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    Do you think they are dying in the cold?

    When you get the bare root trees are they dormant? Are the roots kept in moisture retention goo? Have the roots been soaked for a few hours prior to planting? How long did you have them before planting? Where these whips basically or were they branched saplings?

  8. #18
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
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    348

    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    I think the cold and harsh winds over the Winter play a big role in failed Fall seedling plantings in my area. Some of the trees, such as the Dogwoods and the Sweet Gums, were branched and looked like miniature trees. The Red Maples always show up as whips, surprisingly one of the Red Maples is sending out leaves, but so far it is only leafing out near the bottom 4" of the whip, no sign of leaves or bud activity at the top of the "whip".

    Prior to planting those seedlings last Fall, I soaked them in a water bucket for 4-5 hours, then planted them in fairly moist soil in late October (when they arrived from ADF). I mulched the area right away too, and staked all the seedlings using those thin bamboo stakes and flexible tree ties. All the trees were planted on a large soil bed, about 20 feet long by 15 feet wide. The trees that I received from my county this spring (4 yr old blue spruce transplants, white pine transplants, and sugar maples) are all thriving right now, and I planted the blue spruce and white pine in that same soil bed. My sugar maples are in pots right now but will be moved to that soil bed shortly, after I am CERTAIN the frosts are done for the season.

  9. #19
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
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    Georgia
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    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    You mentioned (and so did someone else) having trouble with fall planting specifically. Lack of cold hardiness is one theory, especially with sweetgum and dogwood if that came from a southern seed source but another theory is I think the trees are chilled and kept in dormancy, perhaps all summer, and they are drying out in the process of storage or transport.
    If the trees are grown close to you and planted soon after they are harvested (winter or late winter) then it could be they are being handled well and not drying out.

  10. #20
    Oak
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    Jun 2008
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    Western NY, Zone 6
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    RE: Fall planting failures with bare root trees

    My Sweet Gums started to bud but it looks like they stopped, no leaves from them. The very bottom of the trunk of one of my free Red Maples is leafing out finally - should I clip the rest of the trunk that is not budding, or just leave it be?

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