True cedar trees (Cedrus) are native to the Mediterranean region. In North America, many trees are referred to as cedar trees but actually belong to other species and genera. All cedar trees, regardless of botanical affiliation, are evergreen and bear fragrant leaves. North American cedar species are native throughout the continent, but not all trees are suited for residential landscapes. The best time to plant residential landscape cedar depends on your area's climate and tree type.
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Fall and Spring Planting
Junipers, arbor vitae and other Thuja species are usually referred to as cedar. They are planted in early spring or in the fall. When purchasing your cedar from a nursery or garden centre, pay attention to how the plant is packaged as this determines the best time to plant your tree. Balled and burlapped trees are safely planted in fall, prior to the first frost. Bare root trees and seedlings are planted in spring before they begin to show new growth. Planting bare root trees when they are still dormant ensures good root development.
You can plant balled and burlapped cedar trees during the summer months, but you risk losing the tree to drought and heat stress. Planting during summer also diminishes new growth. If you must plant during the summer, then plant trees in well-draining soil and keep them irrigated. Apply a loose mulch to the tree's base. Drought tolerant species like cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) and deodor cedar (Cedrus deodara) with established and protected root systems can tolerate summer plantings, but overall this season is not recommended for interring cedar plantings.
Cedar trees can be planted when the ground is workable. After freezing frosts, it is not possible to provide the tree with an adequate planting hole. Some growers hold off planting by using a technique called heeling. Dig a shallow trench and place the sapling's root system in the depression with the trunk diagonal to the ground. Cover the root system with mulch and wait until the ground is workable, in early spring, to plant your cedar tree. In warm climates, such as those found in the Southwestern and Southeastern United States, or along the West Coast, trees can be planted during winter in nonfreezing climates. Choose to plant balled and burlapped or containerised trees and hold off planting bare root trees until early spring.
If you choose to grow your cedar trees from seed, then collect cones in spring. Remove the seeds from the cone. Store the seeds in an airtight container. Seeds should be kept within a temperature range of 4.44 to 10 degrees Celsius. In early spring, once the ground is workable, sow cedar seeds in prepared garden beds.
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- North Dakota State Unversity Extension; Questions on Cedar; Ron Smith
- Michigan State University Department of Forestry; Tree Planting in Michigan; Douglas Lantagne, et al.
- Arbor Day Foundation: Elm, Cedar
- Arbor Day Foundation: Deodor Cedar
- Arbor Day Foundation: Eastern Red Cedar
- University of Wisconsin; Collecting and Planting Seeds of Cone Bearing Trees; William H. Brenner, et al.