Good trees for urban gardens: October — perfect time for planting trees

October is a wonderful month. The trees are showing their colors.  Many trees come to their perfection in October. Many gardeners start to think about planting trees.

How perfect that the beautiful month is a great time to visit a nursery and see trees of various colors. If we see trees with their actual color, we have less chance to be disappointed in a tree chosen in the spring.

Planting in October is  ideal in many ways. The rains have added moisture to the soil, making it a little easier to dig. After we plant the trees, Mother Nature provides heavier rain from November through February to keep ideal conditions for the trees to develop their roots and be ready for new growth in the spring. They are less likely to be stressed in the dry months of June through September.

Japanese maples are an important fall tree. If you give them the right conditions, they grow easily. Just avoid very hot, stressful conditions. Filtered shade is perfect for many Japanese maples. Native vine maples are also recommended.

Smoke trees (cotinus coggyria) are a very hardy tree, They rarely grow over 20 feet. It can easily be kept lower. They can take heat and drought, so are a great tree for difficult situations. Royal Purple is a smoke tree that changes shades of purple. Sourwood (oxydendrum) is another tough tree with lovely fall color.

Katsura (cercidiphyllum) has great fall color. It  dislikes drought so needs to have its watering needs taken care of. Katsuras are slow growing, but can eventually reach a height of 40 feet or more.

Stewartia pseudocamellia has similar needs to katsura. Leaves will turn crispy in hot dry conditions. Mulching with bark chips or a bark/ compost mix will help the trees. Just keep the mulch away from the trunk.

Take some time to visit a local nursery to be inspired to grow a new tree.

— By Barbara Chase

Barbara Chase is a Master Gardener who serves on the City of Edmonds Citizens Tree Board.

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