You've done the research on selecting the right tree for your yard and the optimal time to get it in the ground. You've picked the perfect location for your new trees and are waiting on the last frost to pass. You've spent your hard earned money on the beautiful plants you have seen so many pictures of, mostly showcasing their flowering or fruiting stages. You've tracked your shipment from our nursery to your door (maybe even tracking down the delivery man). And you open the box to discover the tree you have been sent looks like a stick stuck in the dirt. 

If you are shipped a tree between the months of December and March, the tree you receive may not be as pretty as you might have expected. Have no fear! Your tree may look like it isn’t healthy, but don’t worry, it’s just dormant for the winter. When the temperature begins to drop, your tree’s sap migrates down to the roots to ensure its survival throughout the winter, and as you may have read, this is the perfect time to transplant your tree.

While your tree is dormant above ground, the roots are hard at work, preparing for the springtime. While its dormant, roots still seek out and soak up water and tend to extend further, creating a better, stronger base for your future mature tree. Keeping your plant watered is vital to keeping it alive during this time. If you aren't planning on getting the tree in the ground right away, make sure the soil is staying wet (not muddy). 

Also, you may not have known, it's this underground growth that helps create a thicker trunk for your tree as well. The transport of sap from the tree to its roots encourages growth specifically in the trunk of your tree. This means that every winter, while your tree is preparing to go dormant, its trunk is growing thicker and stronger to support the tree when it flushes again in spring.

You can expect your tree to flush again once the days begin to be warmer and longer. This will trigger the sap to migrate back up into the tree, where it will begin producing leaves again, and upward growth will resume. Each area will experience this at a different time, so don’t be alarmed if your tree isn’t flushing in the first few days of spring. 

We love to see our new tree "parents" concerned about their latest arrival but there is no reason to be. Your tree is perfectly healthy and is doing exactly what it should be doing. You are giving it a great start in its new home and will certainly relish the sight of the foliage in the spring. Concerns should always be addressed before planting, so if you need some reassurance that your tree is in fact dormant and not dead, perform a scratch test on the tree to reveal the cambium just below the bark. You can use a fingernail and gently scratch at the bark about half way up the trunk. 

For pictures of some of our more popular plants in their dormancy stage and to get a better understanding of what to expect when purchasing trees during the dormancy months, please see the slideshow below.
More Pictures of Dormant Trees

For instructions on planting and care for your tree, take a look at Plant Me Green's guides!


louise said:

thank you for vital information on trees. I want to plant flowering trees among heavy oak forest. dogwood. wisteria. any suggestions?

Plant Me Green said:

That is a great idea, and we will most certainly get more images up on the blog. We are glad the information was helpful to you!
-Plant Me Green

andreily said:

you guys should add more examples so it is easier but thank you for the info it helped a lot

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