The Best Time to Plant

Gardeners often ask, "When is the best time to plant?" but most perennial plants and trees have no specific date. Here's how to tell when you can plant.

When is the best time to plant?

The best time to plant depends on your local conditions and what you are growing. Annual seeds and vegetable plants (that complete their life cycle in one year) need a planting date that is more specific. However, with perennial plants like fruit trees and berry plants, the best time to plant can be less exact.

Think of your planting time as a range of favorable conditions instead of an exact time. For example, you can plant dormant, bare-root new plants and trees...

  1. When the ground is not frozen.
  2. When daytime temperatures are above freezing (32ºF) and below 90ºF.
  3. When extreme weather (blizzard, hail, torrential rain, etc.) is not in the forecast.

For leafy, potted plants and trees, you'll want to wait until the threat of frost passes and acclimate them to their new environment. Properly acclimating new plants and trees helps avoid stress and provides them with the best start possible. Some plants and trees, like our potted berry plants and Stark® EZ Start® potted trees, are grown in the controlled environment of our greenhouses.

When these plants ship to you, they may arrive leafed out and already growing. This tender growth can be sensitive to things like direct sunlight and sudden changes in temperature, so acclimating them to their new environment before planting will help provide the best start possible. Avoid strong winds, strong sunlight, frost snaps, and low temps (below 50º F) when planting new transplants.

Many fruit growers prefer to plant during the dormant season, some prefer to plant in the spring and others partake in the advantages of planting in the fall. As long as you keep in mind what you are planting and avoid the unfavorable conditions listed above, you can plant when you feel most comfortable.