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Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

Posted by daveg z9 CA ( on
Tue, Jan 31, 12 at 15:56

I live in a mild climate. Do the tree roots continue to grow and develop during the winter? Is that why it is recommended to plant in October?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

Yes....But it is variable. Species (or genus), soil moisture, and soil temperature are probably the largest factors.

RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 31, 12 at 16:02

Fall planting is better because of a combination of the seasonal condition of the tree and the weather patterns. In fall plants are full of the energy sources the leaves have manufactured and the stems and roots have stored all summer. Planted before the existing roots elongate in fall there is instant establishment - if these roots have not had to be mauled because of confinement to a container too long and resulting deformity - a pandemic problem with nursery stock at this time.

Most root growth is in fall and spring. The spring activity consists of the initiation of new roots, bare-rooted stock planted in spring after being in cold storage at a nursery facility comparatively immediately begins to replace small roots killed by the bare-rooting and storage process.

RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

what he said..

but its also all the 'cultural' variables ...

sun is in decline .. so its cooler and less intense .. and colder at night .. tree roots do not need warm soil ... [and i am not talking about my frozen earth z5, since you dont live there] ...

and with lower daytime heat.. and the declination of the sun.. moisture can be retained longer and deeper in the soil .. since the sun isnt as hot nor blistering ...

and... deciduous trees dont need to try to hang onto the leaves in an active growth phase with the total root interruption which planting can inflict .... yet grow roots once they get going though the top is dormant ...

and with evergreen types.. the leaves are not dealing with the hot sun.. etc ...

so there is no real downside.. to planting in fall or early spring ... which i call.. 6 to 8 weeks prior to the real heat of summer ... i also like to say.. that planting in fall gives you two 'cool' seasons to get the roots working ... as compared to planting in spring.. and hoping it can get its act together before summer ...

so ... its what you said.. plus what he said.. plus what i added ... which all adds up to what i call .. PROPER PLANTING TIME ...

never forget.. just because you buy it.. that does not mean its the proper planting time.. and my success went way up.. when i realized that if i buy things in summer.. that i 'hold' the potted plant .. until proper planting time in fall ... [or mail ordered in very early spring]

good logic grasshopper.. now lets get back to some kung foo ... [wow.. that obscure.. lol]


RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

What Smivies said, plus some species (relatively few, but still, some) should not be planted in fall even in warmer zones.

RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

yeah .. yeah..

the point was ... there is a PROPER PLANTING time for everything..

and that is where the process starts ... [vs when you buy it] .. there is always an exception to the rule ...


RE: Do roots grow when the tree is dormant

I read that the roots of plants will continue to grow until the ground temperature drops below approx. 40F / 4C. Coincidentally, that also happens to be around the temperature that I've read insect activity ceases (birds will continue to catch and eat insects on mild days during the winter).

This winter has been so mild, I'm not sure the ground temp has dropped much below that. The ground is partially frozen and the frost line doesn't go very deep. Hopefully the roots of the 20 or so shrubs and small trees I transplanted last fall are getting well-established.

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