Plant now for autumn colour next year

June 27, 2017

No doubt you would have noticed the stunning autumn foliage around town during the past few months as the deciduous trees prepared for winter.

This beautiful display starts with some of the maples as early as April and goes through to mid-June with the likes of ornamental pears.

Therefore, with a little thought you can get autumn colour in your garden for a few months. For red foliage it is hard to beat the Lipstick maples, Chinese pistachios and ornamental pears. For yellow foliage check out ginkgos, golden poplars and birches, while liquidambar trees colour with a palette from red to orange and yellow.

Deciduous trees put on this display as they go dormant for winter by breaking down and reabsorbing nutrients from the leaves to store in the roots and trunk during the colder months. Once all the leaves have dropped from the tree the sap flow slows considerably and the plant goes into dormancy until the warmer weather of spring.

As deciduous plants are now dormant, with a little care they can be dug up out of the ground and transplanted into new locations. This is what is called bare-rooted planting and can only be done at this time of year, making now the best time to go to your garden centre and buy bare-rooted deciduous trees, shrubs and roses.

Not only do they transplant well but they are quite often bigger, easier to handle and transport, and what’s more, they are cheaper to buy than potted deciduous plants.

When purchasing bare-rooted plants, it is important to check a few things.

• Are the plants being stored in the nursery in a way that their roots cannot dry out?

• Are there any signs of stress on the branches?

• Are the roots healthy and is there enough of them left on the plant from when it was dug out?

• Choose plants carefully for their branch structure and potential shape.

• On grafted plants check out the graft union to make sure it is strong and well formed.
• Assess what needs to be pruned off the plant: damaged roots, crossing branches and establishment pruning.

If you are unsure, ask your nurseryman to advise you on your choice, as these points are critical to the success of growing barerooted plants.

Once you have purchased a bare-rooted plant, be sure to keep the roots damp at all times and when you get them home plant them out straight away or at least cover the roots temporarily with soil.

There is a huge variety of bare-rooted plants to choose from at the moment, so call into a garden centre and check them out.

While you are there, grab a free booklet to help you decide what will look great in your little piece of paradise.

Do you have any tips for bare-rooted planting? Share them with others in the comments below.

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