Fall is a time to give some care to woody plants. Most shrubs and trees do not need to be fertilized, if the lawn is fertilized. Also, if leaf litter (fallen leaves) is allowed to remain on the ground below the canopy, then there is a good chance that is a source of nutrients. But if soil testing reveals a need for supplemental nutrients, then fall of the year is good for fertilizer application.
If a fertilizer is spread on the soil, it is a good practice to water-in the fertilizer, if rainfall is not in the forecast. This helps protect tender roots of the woody plant from the salt of fertilizer.
Fall is an excellent time to plant/transplant shrubs and trees Transplanting in the fall allows for a better chance of establishment before the heat of upcoming summer. Roots grow in the cool season and throughout the winter if planted in fertile, well-drained soil in the fall. The gardener should know to follow recommended practices for planting. Give attention to trunk flair so that flair of the trunk is just-above the grade when seated. Be persistent and consistent with watering practices. A good soaking is needed once a week to aid the transplant’s establishment. Recommended total of irrigation is equivalent to an inch of rainfall per week.
In times of drought, possibly watering more frequently is required. It is up to the homeowner to observe the local rainfall for the transplant’s first three to four years at the new site. Savvy gardeners know rainy days may not provide correct amounts of water for the newly-planted tree or shrub. It may be necessary to irrigate, in addition to the amount of rain, for the years following transplant. Once the shrub or tree is established the gardener may have years of enjoyment of fall color.
Submitted by Kathy Wimberely, Agent for Horticulture, McCracken Co. Cooperative Extension