This is one of the most common questions about Thuja Green Giant. There was a time when hedging plants were only available at certain seasons, because that was when the growers found it best to dig the plants from the fields. Today even large trees and bushes are grown entirely in containers, so they are available for planting all year round. When you have a garden project to do, you can find the plants you want, but still, there are better and not-so-good times to plant, so let’s look at this issue with Thuja Green Giant.
Hedges and screens have always been a core part of most gardens. They are cheaper and much more attractive than fences, especially if you need shelter and privacy above 6 feet high. As well, hedges are effective filters of dust and noise – much more effective than solid structures of wood, concrete or stone. Installing a hedge or boundary screen is often the first job in establishing a garden. Our goal is to put in plants so that they take hold immediately, begin to grow as soon as possible, and establish themselves quickly, growing rapidly to maturity.
Since we can plant at almost any time of year that the ground is not frozen hard, deciding on which time is best for you, given your location and goals, is an important decision. Let’s look at the different options, and most importantly, consider the implications of each choice in terms of future care and the rate of establishment of your hedge or screen.
Planting Thuja Green Giant in Fall
Fall planting is one of the two traditional times for planting – the other being spring. As we all know too well – gardeners or not – there is early fall, with its warm days and crisp nights, and the feel of summer still lingering. Then there is late fall, when the first chill winds of winter begin to blow, and icy rain can sting your face. It is those first weeks of fall, from Labor Day onward, that are the ideal time in fall for planting.
Why is that?
Firstly, the soil is still warm from the summer, so roots are stimulated to grow. There has usually been some rain around the end of August, when the first cooler nights arrive, so the ground is moist too. Warmth and moisture are ideal conditions for rapid root growth and establishment. Thuja Green Giant, like any other tree you plant at this time, will quickly send out roots to explore the soil you carefully prepared, and the continuing rains of fall, with cooler air temperatures, will reduce or even eliminate the need for you to water your plants.
The roots of trees are adapted to grow in cooler conditions that the branches. So root growth will continue even as the soil cool. In mild areas, where the ground rarely freezes hard, some root growth will continue all winter. You can plant right up to Christmas if the ground is not frozen. By spring your plants will be well-established, and ready to take off. Not only will you see rapid growth, but water-stress will be reduced, although you will still need to water your new trees regularly during that first growing season.
On the other hand, if you live in a colder area, and you delay planting until, say, Halloween or even later, then you begin to run the risk of winter damage. That small pot of soil that contains all the roots of your plants can easily freeze solid, making it harder for the leaves to take up water. The plants will be more prone to winter burn. The conclusion we can draw is that while early fall is a good planting season everywhere, late fall and early winter become less and less attractive for planting, the further into cold areas we go.
Planting Thuja Green Giant in Spring
Spring is the other traditional planting season for trees. Especially in cold areas, it is perhaps the better season, especially for evergreens like Thuja Green Giant. The main disadvantage to spring planting is that the soil is very cold, and often very wet as well. When saturated with water soil has very little oxygen in it, and oxygen is vital for the growth of plant roots. Some diseases thrive in very cold soil, and that cold, wet, oxygen-low soil can encourage disease and reduce growth.
It follows that if you plant in spring, don’t be too eager, especially in cold areas. The ground remains cold for some weeks, and it is best to wait for it to warm and dry a little before planting evergreens. How long to wait depends on your climate zone. In areas where hot, dry summer weather arrives early, don’t wait too long, but in places where spring is a drawn-out affair, and summers are often wet and cooler, there is no hurry, and later may be better. May and early June can be ideal for evergreen planting in cold areas.
Usually, though, trees planted in spring will not be so well established by summer, so you will need to keep a closer eye on watering. Don’t be fooled by a thunderstorm, which often doesn’t even penetrate the ground. If you plant in spring, you should let a hose trickle gentle near the base of each tree once a week for the first growing season. The root-ball will have few roots spreading out at first, and even if the surrounding soil is damp, warm weather creates a lot of water-loss from the foliage of your trees, and that small root-ball can dry out quickly. This is the single biggest danger for trees planted in spring – root-ball desiccation. Careful attention to watering right at the base of the tree, as well as keeping the soil generally moist, is the key to giving your new plants the best possible chance for success.
Planting Thuja Green Giant in Summer
Although we have had trees in pots for decades now, some gardeners still avoid summer for planting. Fair enough, but not everyone has that choice, and if you are keen to get started, and it is already June or July, there is no reason why, with the right care, trees planted in the full heat of summer will not thrive. A few tips for planting will give you the information you need to succeed. First, always water the container thoroughly the night before planting. A moist root-ball is vital. Secondly, always soak the planting hole before you finish putting back the soil. When there is still a space left in the hole, fill it with water and wait for it to drain down. There is a danger in summer especially that you will not water thoroughly enough, and the soil round your plants will still be dry. Watering right into the planting hole prevents this happening.
Also, establish a regular watering schedule – twice a week during hot spells, once a week the rest of the time. Water thoroughly, using a trickle hose, rather than a sprinkler or hand-held hose. Watering by hand is fun, but we rarely stand there long enough to really do a thorough job. If you keep a close eye on watering, your plants will be well-established by fall, ready to take advantage of that season to complete their establishment. Summer planting usually give the maximum possible growth rate in the following season.
Hopefully these tips and thoughts will help you decide when to plant. Even more, no matter when you plant, they will help you get the most from your trees, and soon have a great screen or hedge of Thuja Green Giant.