Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

By Pat Naughton

 September is by far our wettest month in Brunswick County.  The average rainfall for September is over 8 inches.  The additional moisture and warm weather makes September an optimal time for planting balled-in-burlap plants.  When field grown trees are harvested, their root balls are balled-in-burlap.  That is, burlap is wrapped around the root balls and secured with nails, string, or wire.  Digging a plant up reduces the root system, which limits the plant’s ability absorb soil moisture.  This water stress is known as “transplant shock”.  Container plants are less susceptible to transplant shock and can be planted year round.

  The following are some plants and shrubs that are suitable for Brunswick County:

American Beautyberry




Carissa Chinese Holly

Chinese Hollies


Coastal Sweetpepperbush

Dwarf Yaupon




Indian Hawthorn

Japanese and Korean Boxwood

Japanese Fatsia

Japanese Plum Yew

Japanese Privet




Southern Wax Myrtle

  When selecting a plant be sure to allow spacing for its full grown height and width.  Typically Brunswick County soil is sandy and well draining.  Dig a hole that is 2 times and preferably 5 times wider than the root ball.  Remove any wires and synthetic burlap from the root ball.  Consider adding topsoil if the soil is sandy.  Organic material does not promote a larger root system nor encourage root penetration into the native soil.  To encourage penetration in the soil mix some adjacent soil to with any amendments.  Slicing the root ball cuts encircling roots and produces flushes of new roots into the surrounding soil.  The top of the root ball should be even with the surrounding soil.  Depending on the weather and rainfall, water daily for the first few weeks.  After that start cutting back on watering to every few days or longer.  Eventually water on a weekly or “as needed basis”.

  Fall planting allows the carbohydrates produced during the previous growing season to be directed to the root growth.  When spring arrives, a well-established root system will be prepared to provide the necessary water and nutrients for optimum plant growth.