As long as the ground is not frozen, anytime is a good time to plant a tree. Fall is a particularly good time because, planted early enough in the season, cooler temps and fall rains help trees establish their root systems before winter and the stress of summer heat and drought sets in.
If you plant now, be sure to water, water, water and water well. The school of thought for established trees is one-quarter turn of the hose or root feeder on a slow trickle at its root ball every few days for 10 minutes. For newly installed trees, do this every day for four or five days and then gradually reduce the frequency. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of good-quality mulch for winter protection.
At Loma Vista Nursery, we grow container and field grown trees for landscape contractors, independent garden centers and wholesale distributors. Here are a few of our team’s favorite selections.
Redpointe® Red Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Frank Jr.’)
Prized for its pyramidal habit and rich green foliage during growing season, Redpointe® Maple features clusters of red flowers along its branches before its leaves emerge in early spring. Foliage is a distinctive “maple leaf” shape that turns bright red in autumn. Bark is silver with red branches. Include this deciduous tree in landscape designs that require vertical height but be aware that it favors acidic soil.
Redpointe® Maple has a medium growth rate to 45 feet tall at maturity. The spread is 30 feet. Strategically prune from the base of the tree to create a 6 foot canopy if it is planted in a yard or area where people will be walking or entertaining. It tolerates urban pollution and prefers average to wet conditions. Plant this specimen tree in full sun, in a place in the landscape where it will be seen to be enjoyed. Best in USDA Hardiness Zone 4.
Royal Raindrops Crabapple Tree (Malus ‘Royal Raindrops’)
Royal Raindrops Crabapple Tree
If you’re looking for a pop of spring color in the landscape, consider Royal Raindrops crabapple. Clusters of bright-pink blooms in mid-spring are fragrant against deep purple leaves, which transition to orange in fall. Red berries follow the spring blossoms, providing fruits for cardinals, robins and cedar waxwings. This compact specimen tree is perfect in urban landscapes and as an anchor in a perennial border.
Underplant Royal Raindrops with liriope, periwinkle or little bluestem. This crabapple is cold, heat and drought tolerant and disease resistant. Occasional deep watering is required when planting young trees. But be careful – excessive watering will cause root rot. Apply a balanced fertilizer at the root system and protect with mulch. With an upright, spreading habit, this crabapple has a modest mature height of 20 feet with a 15-foot spread. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zone 4.
Green Mountain® Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum ‘Green Mountain’)
Green Mountain® Sugar Maple
With three-season color, Green Mountain® Sugar Maple can be the centerpiece of any landscape design. Especially in fall, when its leathery, deep-green leaves in spring and summer turn vibrant yellow, orange and red. Deciduous, this sugar maple is perfect for shady spots, parks and near a front entryway at an HOA, apartment or commercial building. Plant it in a residential landscape, sited where it can be enjoyed by neighbors and passersby.
Green Mountain® Sugar Maple is long-lived, but does not tolerate road salt, soil compaction and pollution, so avoid planting this along busy streets or in areas where these factors will be an issue. Plant this maple where it will have room to grow. A quick grower, its mature height is typically between 40- and 60-feet. It has a broad pyramidal habit, spreading between 25- and 45-feet. Best in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8. Plant in part shade to full sun.
Hot Wings® Tatarian Maple (Acer tataricum ‘Garann’)
Hot Wings® Maple
One of the most interesting of small-specimen ornamentals, Hot Wings® Maple is best known for its whimsical scarlet “helicopters” or winged seeds in summer. These samaras contrast with lime-green foliage, making the tree appear to be blooming with large, dangling flowers. Earlier in spring, these first emerge as clusters of cotton-ball white blooms after the leaves appear. In fall, foliage turns bright shades of orange and red on the inside and vibrant yellow in the middle.
Depending on landscape applications, this maple can be pruned as a small tree or large shrub. At maturity Hot Wings® Maple reaches between 15- and 18-feet tall and wide. If you’re looking to make a statement, Hot Wings® Maple provides quite a “wow.” It is a perfect addition to sensory gardens, playgrounds and small children’s gardens. This maple has a strong branching structure and performs well in clay, loamy and sandy soil. Site it in soil that is moderate to dry. Plant in part shade to full sun, in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.
Princeton Elm (Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’)
Before succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease, the classic American Elm was the most popular street tree on the market during the early 20th Century. But Dutch Elm Disease forced it out of production until a disease-resistant variety could be grown and tested. Princeton Elm has shown itself to be a hardy cultivar and one of the most resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. With an upright form and branches that stretch to the sky, this elm has deep green foliage that turns yellow in fall.
Use Princeton Elm as a shade, parkway or street tree, but give it plenty of open space to thrive. It grows vigorously to 50 feet tall and 40-feet wide at maturity. This hardy elm likes well-drained soil that is rich and moist. It prefers full sun but tolerates light shade. In its habitat, Princeton Elm can be home to butterflies, squirrels and nesting birds. Plant it in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.
Learn More About Landscape Plants from Loma Vista Nursery
Loma Vista Nursery’s staff members are experts in the field. We love helping people learn and understand more about healthy plants that perform well in Midwest landscapes. For more information about trees, shrubs and plants that are ideal for fall landscapes, visit our plant catalog. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (785) 229-7200 to get answers to your plant-related questions.
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