Greetings Friends!
The first day of autumn is Thursday, September 22. The fall harvest can be just as hectic as spring. Did you know that many deciduous trees are most successfully planted in fall? The feature article by Ben French explains more. We've also posted videos to further explain fall harvesting and planting.

Johnson's Nursery grows many beautiful trees in containers. This month's feature article is about planting container-grown trees in fall and how timing and plant selection can decrease stress on plants. Fall is a great time for planting trees. It's a total win-win!

The plant of the month is Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips'. The leaf lore is about the history of container production. Did you know that container production dates back to 500 BCE Tang Dynasty China?     
Thank you for reading. Enjoy!

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Container Tree Planting in FallFA
by Ben French, Propagator     
How timing and plant selection can decrease stress on plant and person alike.

Now that summer is headed out, we at Johnson's Nursery would like to remind everyone of the reality of the next few months. I know, it seems like we just got used to the warm weather. I just got used to putting sunscreen on several times a day. But, we have to face it, another growing season is on its way out. The weather is getting cooler. Rains occur more frequently. Cloud cover is increasing. I hear commercials for Oktoberfest beers. I haven't smelled a BBQ in over a week. This it folks.


Fall is a great time for planting trees. It's a total win-win. Trees don't like to be moved, it stresses them out. Fall makes the move more bearable for many tree species - especially deciduous types. For the most part, they are done growing for the season, so their water requirements are much lower than they would be for summer. This means you likely have to water your tree less frequently. Also, their roots are not dormant, so they will keep rooting out into the new environment all the way up until the freeze. This results in a more established plant in spring that will require less water and observation by next summer (as compared to planting one next spring - for example).

These fall principles apply to both balled and burlapped trees (B&B, aka field dug) and container-grown trees. However - container trees have an additional advantage of having more roots intact at the time of harvest. In many species, we often see the container grown specimen outgrow a similar field dug one. This is because the field grown transplant typically has to spend more time re-growing its root system before it can resume vigorous growth in its new location. The container plant has almost all of its roots intact - so as long as it gets enough water to establish - it can pick up right where it left off and hardly miss a beat.

Not to mention container grown material is considerably lighter and more transportable than field dug trees.

At the nursery we have many beautiful trees in containers. My personal favorites are the local genotype natives. Other companies usually sell native species grown elsewhere from unknown genotypes. They are shipped in to our state by other growers and consumers experience mixed results. We know where our plants come from because almost all of them we've raised from seed, ourselves, in our local conditions.

We have a good assortment of natives right now, including oak, sugar maple, musclewood, ironwood, aspen, tamarack, birch and even beech.

Find more about planting in fall below in the Videos & Guides section below. 
Quercus macrocarpa (Bur Oak) in #10 container
Gymnocladus dioica (Kentucky Coffeetree)
#25 Gallon container grown trees 
Hot Lips Pink Turtlehead
Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips'

The name comes from the Greek 'Chelone' meaning tortoise because the flowers are reminiscent of the open mouth of a turtle. Turtlehead does best in moist, rich soils and is a great choice for pond and stream sides, rain gardens, or moist shade. Trouble free and deer resistant, Hot Lips is long blooming, showy, and a more vivid pink than the species.  
Container production of trees has a long history. Very long. Records indicate that Chinese nurserymen were growing trees in containers prior to 500 BCE at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. These container grown trees were almost exclusively for ornamental and spiritual use. Called penzai, literally 'tray plant', naturally occurring dwarf trees, filled with twists and knots, were dug from the wild and planted in shallow footed trays (Chinese: pen) as objects of beauty and contemplation. Penzai specimens were deemed to have concentrated spiritual energy because of their supposed age and because they had no 'profane' value as timber. Also, seedlings did not grow to display the same form as the parent plants. These early, wild, specimens were valued as unique in all the world.

Many desired one. However, the Emperor laid claim to all wild specimens. Gardeners and nurserymen then began to grow seedlings in pots, ageing them with tricks and techniques, to appear as miniaturized versions of the royal penzai. This technique spread throughout Asia. Known as bonsai and saikei in Japan, hon non bo in Vietnam, and penjing in modern day China, specialty container grown trees is still a very popular passion today.

In the United States, container grown trees-especially citrus and conifers-have been ubiquitous for over 200 years. Not produced for ornamental qualities, American nurserymen instead grew trees in containers and shipped them across the continent for reforestation and landscape use. A big new country, already heavily wooded, invited a different type of contemplation. Also, making money is always a reliable motivation. Prior to large scale container grown tree availability, farmers and foresters had to limit their planting to a brief spring window when bare root trees could survive transplant. Container grown trees hugely expanded the planting window and reduced mortality in transplants.

The trick to growing trees in containers successfully has always been to avoid winter damage. Containers grown outside can freeze all the way through, crushing and killing the roots. Enter greenhouses. The first documented example of a greenhouse was built out of mica, circa 30 CE, for the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Divided beds (boxes) on wheels were rolled outside on sunny days and then rolled back in, under protection of the mica 'specularia' during wintry days or cold nights. 
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:52

Is it too late to plant? No, but you want to get perennials in the ground by mid October. Perennials need time to root in, otherwise frost could pop them out of the ground... Learn more.
from The Dirt
Duration 2:09

Autumn in Wisconsin is a special time! At Johnson's Nursery, we still have a lot to do before breaking out the sweaters. Some trees can only be dug in fall. Fall is a fabulous time to... Learn more.
from The Dirt
Duration 1:59

Many people think trees need to be in the ground by June. That's not true. While in holding, waiting to be transferred to your yard, they can be planted anytime the ground isn't frozen... Learn more.

Sometimes rather than installing a cold fence structure, you can promote neighborly love with a green screen living privacy fence. Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 2:37

We're in a very hot and dry season. Plants are under a considerable amount of stress. Your plants could use some help... Learn more.
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Do You Like To DIY?
We Plan-You Plant offers the guidance of our experts, who will use information gathered from you to create a professional landscape design--at no cost--when you purchase your plants at Johnson's Nursery.

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Recycle Your Plant Pots/Trays
If you throw certain landscape plastics (i.e #2, #5, #6) in the trash, they will sit in the landfill and will not get recycled. You can return them to us--for free--all year long. Act locally, think globally. Recycle.

Expanding Your Family Tree?
Have you had a baby recently? Let us extend congratulations by offering you a discount on a tree to grow alongside your baby. Like your child, our trees are raised locally and will grow strong.

Visit our archive to read previous issues of The Leaf in Brief.

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Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
W180 N6275 Marcy Road. Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 ( map)
p. 262.252.4988