The time to plant trees and shrubs

By Gregg Eyestone

Fall may be the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Soil temperatures are favorable for root growth, cooler air temperatures allow for plants to get settled without heat stress and, generally, moisture falls from the sky to assist with watering the new plants. Planting at this time gives the new plants perhaps eight months to get established before summer’s potential stresses.

I’m going to be planting many more Viburnums in our yard. Viburnums range in size from 3 feet to 20 in height and spread. Most of them are suited to growing in our area. K-State is conducting a study on Viburnums that are best for our area. My planting will be a tag along with the real research.

Matching up the right plant for the right location is my first tasks. Space needs to match with the foretold potential mature size. Take in consideration of any easements or utility placement. Viburnums grow in full sun and part shade. They are tolerant of most of our soil conditions.

More often than not, the growing media is different than your planting site. A good practice is to apply two inches of compost over the planting site. The compost is worked into the soil. Not just to a planting hole. Your plants will appreciate the loose surrounding soil for root development.

Roots will likely need redirected when removed from a container. It is a good practice to loosen the roots and get them spread out. I’ve done this on trees where I washed all the soil from the roots to make sure they were going the right direction. Root pruning is good to stimulate root branching.

Your plants need to be set at ground level or slightly higher. Too low will reduce plant vigor. Add water and soil back to the planting hole making sure the plant is at the right height. When the soil has a lot of clay or you are going to mulch, planting a little high is suggested.

Planting now and when done correctly can pay big benefits come next year’s summer conditions.

You can find out more information on gardening by going to Riley County’s K-State Research and Extension website at You may contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail:

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