When is the best time to plant fruit trees?
Anytime is a good time to plant container-grown fruit trees, even during summer. The same goes for fruiting shrubs. What more is involved
than preparing the site, digging some holes, watering them in their
pots, lifting them from their containers, putting them in the ground,
watering some more, and adding a layer of mulch? As long as the soil
isn't shaken from their roots in the process, the plants should do well.
They will require watering whether planted or not, but less watering if planted.
Container-grown fruit trees and shrubs planted in fall should not succumb to cold
temperatures during winter, provided that they are in good health
to begin with and cold hardy in your area. The roots are better
protected in the ground. Though the branches and foliage will not grow
during cold weather, the roots will establish themselves. As a result,
they will be ready to get growing the following spring, and they'll need a little less watering when hot weather arrives.
It's different when planting bare-root fruit trees. They must be dug and planted during dormancy for a good chance of survival. Because roots establish themselves throughout the winter, I would personally rather plant them during fall, but it would be very unlikely to find them on the market. Growers may begin digging their bare-root stock during late winter, weather permitting, and may not be able to ship until early spring. So spring planting is likely the only option.
John J Marshall
John also blogs at goGardenNow.blogspot.com.