Northern Florida’s warm climate means you can plant trees any time of the year, but different trees will grow better if planted during specific seasons.
Here’s a sampling of what the University of Florida Extension program recommends for a tree planting by month.
January: The middle of winter is the best time to plant deciduous fruit trees, to give the roots time to establish before the warmer and drier months. You want to plant the tree while it’s still dormant.
April: Now’s the time to plant Carolina Silverbell, fringetree and redbud trees.
June and July: These summer months are all about palm trees. Make sure they’re supported with braces for up to eight months while they grow sturdy roots.
November: Fall is good for planting flowering trees that will bloom later in winter.
Is Now The Best Time To Plant Trees?
Late spring and early summer is the best time to plant palm trees. Chestnut trees can be planted in Northern Florida from March to May or from August to September, giving you two planting seasons. Now is also a good time to start planning for fall and winter trees.
Think about what you want from your trees and where you want to plant them.
What Type Of Soil Preparation Should I Consider?
For best success, do a soil test a few weeks before planting your tree. You want to make sure the soil is proper for the tree you’re buying and to see if you need to adjust the pH level when planting. You can also check how well the soil drains by pouring water into the hole you plan to use for the tree. If the water is still there two hours later, you have some work to do on drainage issues or you need to find a water-tolerant tree.
If you don’t plan to make drainage changes, you can create an elevated bed for tree planting, which means raising the planting site up a foot with existing and new soil.
Tree Installation Checklist
When your site is ready, but before you put the tree in its hole, it’s helpful to put the stakes in the ground if you plan to prop up your tree. This way you won’t end up hurting the roots in the process.
Your hole needs to be several times larger than the root ball or bare roots, so you have plenty of room to maneuver. The larger space also prepares the ground so the roots can spread out and grow.
If your tree roots are wrapped in burlap, make sure to hold the tree by that root ball when moving it to the site. Holding it by the trunk can damage the tree. If your root ball is wrapped in burlap, remove any twine and peel the burlap partway back while in the hole. If the wrapping is plastic, it needs to be removed completely.
Plant trees and shrubs to the same depth as they were originally — flush with the top of the root ball — not deeper. After it’s in place, fill the hole about three-quarters with soil, making sure the soil covers the roots. Then add some water and let it drain, allowing the dirt to settle in and eliminating air pockets. You can then add the rest of the soil to the desired level, covering the top with mulch.
How Do I Ensure Success Of Newly Planted Trees?
Fertilize the tree during the first watering, and make sure the tree gets enough water during its first year. A landscape specialist can tell you how often your tree should be watered to ensure it gets just the right amount. Different soil types require different amounts of water, and you don’t want to risk waterlogging your tree or making it parched.
If your tree is taller than six feet, consider staking it. This allows the tree roots to stay put and prevents the tree from falling over while it puts down its roots.
Can I Plant The Tree Myself?
While homeowners can certainly plant some small trees themselves, to ensure that the trees have the best chance of growth and survival, tree planting is best done by a landscaper. Professionals like those at GreenEarth Landscape Services can prepare the soil and site properly for the tree, making sure the tree and its location meet the homeowner’s goals, whether it’s shade, privacy, fruiting/flowering or aesthetics. GreenEarth also warranties the trees and shrubs we install and maintain.
So, when is the best time to plant trees in Northern Florida? Well, as you can see, it really depends on the type of tree. If you want advice on the best time to plant trees and what types of trees to add to your property, we can help. Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.