Best Trees to Plant by Season

While trees adapt to many climates and soil types, they are rather particular about when they are planted. There are some caveats to this discussion. We will focus on planting trees as seeds for the sake of this article. Furthermore, we will consider the seasons the official seasons. 

Winter–December to March

Spring–March to June

Summer–June to September

Fall–September to December

All in all, most saplings will see a higher chance of success if planted in the spring after the last frost. When starting from a seed, you will need to be knowledgeable about the species of tree and when is the best time to plant. Generally speaking, all species within a genus will desire the same planting season. There are a few outliers to this rule, but it should give you a good rule of thumb.

It may be surprising, but there are trees to plant in every season of the year. Below, we will break down the four seasons and a few popular trees to plant in each.

Best Trees to Plant in Winter

Best Trees to Plant by Season-winter

Although we bundle inside for the winter, there are some seeds that want to be planted! Depending on your climate, the ground may freeze, which will make planting difficult (if not impossible). If the ground is not frozen and will not freeze for four to six weeks, you are free to plant.

Many southern states do not experience the same freeze as the northern states do. Most often, you will see winter planting in southern locations like Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana. Deciduous trees are the best choice for winter planting because they are less picky about planting season. Without listing all the deciduous tree genera, it is safe to say that oaks, ashes, willows, and maples are safe to plant in the winter.

That being said, evergreens should not be planted if the soil temperature is below 60 degrees. Both pines and spruces are excellent choices for winter planting if the soil is warm enough.

Best Trees to Plant in Spring

Best Trees to Plant by Season-spring

With spring comes new life. With that, spring is the most common time to plant. However, it is best to plant trees when growth is still dormant. This will give your young tree the longest time to root before the hot and dry summer. Later in the spring may not give it enough time to survive.

If you live in an area with an early winter or cold fall, you may prefer spring planting over any other time. Additionally, your young tree will not be threatened by winter injury.

All trees are safe to plant in the spring. On the other hand, there are some trees that should not be planted in any other season. These season-sensitive trees are the ones we will highlight here.

The trees that truly desire a spring planting are:

  • Dogwoods
  • Magnolias
  • Red Maples
  • Cherry

Best Trees to Plant in Summer

Best Trees to Plant by Season-summer

Planting in summer is difficult at times. While planting in the winter is ideal in southern states, you will see very limited success if you tried planting in the summer. Summers in southern states are too hot and usually too dry. However, some trees are safe to plant in summer in the northern states.

Watering your tree will be mandatory to protect it from any drought. This is the best possible thing you can give your young tree. Some species are heat and drought tolerant once established. There are a few benefits to planting in summer that may surprise you. The heat of summer promotes roots to grow faster. This will establish your young tree as quickly as possible. Moreover, the leaves and blooms will appear sooner and be lusher.

Some trees that thrive with summer planting are:

  • Thuja Green Giant 
  • White Pine
  • Arborvitae

Best Trees to Plant in Fall

Best Trees to Plant by Season-fall

Most deciduous trees prefer a planting time when the trees are dormant. This allows the root system to take place before a long drought. The wet and rainy fall will provide your seed ample time to grow and sprout for the winter. Keep in mind, you want to avoid any kind of freeze for 4 to 6 weeks to give your new tree time to root before a freeze.

Fall really is a great time to plant trees because the weather is not overly hot or cold. Because the soil temperature has not dropped yet, evergreens are perfectly safe to plant.

Some of the best species to plant in fall are:

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