September 22nd marks the first day of Fall. As we approach that date, the nighttime temperatures are cooling down, even as the daytime temperatures stubbornly remain in the 90s. This temperature change, along with the subtle daily reduction of daylight, triggers plants to begin stretching roots deeply into the soil and storing nutrients for their winter slumber. This makes right now an ideal time to put trees in the ground.
The trouble with waiting for fall to plant, is that many of the most common and popular trees are completely sold out or at least pretty well picked through. We may see stocks replenish as the leaves begin to turn and growers begin the fall harvest, but there are still plenty of great trees from which to choose if you know where to look. You might have to drive up and down the Front Range to find the particular tree you seek, or you could have Happy Trees do the legwork for you! Because we shop many vendors, your perfect tree is just a click or call away.
Trees that have languished in the nurseries all summer may be showing signs of stress, such as leaf scorch or premature color change. These are cosmetic issues only, and should not deter you from planting at this time. The trees will hunker down this fall, overwinter in your yard, and begin to push roots into the ground before any signs of spring arrive. With proper water and fertilization, these trees should completely recover and display robust growth next year.
Common trees like Autumn Blaze Maple, Greenspire Linden, or Skyline Honeylocust may not be available at this time, but did you know there are many varieties of all of these species that are lesser know but virtually indistinguishable from their ubiquitous counterparts? Fall Fiesta, Hedge, or Emerald Queen Maple are great for our climate and good substitutes for Autumn Blaze. Ever seen a Silver Linden? All of the attributes of Greenspire, but with silver undersides to the leaves, resembling Aspen leaves fluttering in the wind. I defy you to show me the difference between Imperial or Shademaster Honeylocust vs. the Skyline. All of these are in plentiful supply.
Northern Red Oak may be difficult to find this late in the season. Consider Shumard, equally as regal and in abundance. Many varieties of Crabapple are still yours for the picking if you’re looking for a flowering tree. One vendor has overstock of Kentucky Coffeetree, and still a few seedless ‘Espresso’ trees ready for delivery. There’s not an Austrian Pine left in the state, but check out Scotch Pine. Similar, but a little more funky if that makes sense.
If you need a tree its still likely that I can source exactly what you need. But if not, there’s always suitable substitutes that you may even find preferable to your original choice.