When to Plant Saplings

“When is the best time of year to plant a [tree] sapling?” Question from Julia of Montello, Wisconsin

Answer: Young trees, or saplings, are best planted in early spring before they have fully broken dormancy. The soil must be soft enough to dig before planting. Planting early will give your new sapling a full growing season to set deep roots and new top growth, allowing it to better withstand the cold winter weather of central Wisconsin.

Saplings of very hardy tree species (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 3) will overwinter if planted in fall, and larger balled and burlapped trees are also better able to withstand fall planting because they have more stored energy. But overall newly planted trees perform better from transplant shock if planted in spring.

For a good overview or tree-planting methods, read this article about How and When to Plant Trees! I hope this helps!

Happy gardening! Jessie Keith



Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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