GARDENING: Hardy shrubs, trees love the cool temperaturesFloyd is a horticulturist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He can be reached at 498-4071 in Ector County or 686-4700 in Midland County or by email at

Nurseries sell a lot of trees and shrubs during spring which is fine but fall and winter are a better time to plant them in Odessa. If you’ve moved to West Texas from another part of the country, then there is a good chance you’re not familiar with growing conditions here.
In a nutshell, West Texas is hot, dry, salty and windy in the summer. During winter, extreme cold replaces the heat, but the soil doesn’t freeze, or lose moisture as quickly.
Fall and winter feel cold to us, but hardy shrubs and trees love the cool temperatures. It’s a perfect time for them to rest while their roots take advantage of soil warmth and stretch out in search of water and minerals.
This early root growth for newly planted shrubs and trees helps them get a jump on establishment before the onset of summer. Roots are more than just the foundation that anchors shrubs and trees to the ground. They also produce chemicals that signal growth and form mutually beneficial connections with fungi.
Regardless of when you plant, there is a correct method. Inspect the ball and straighten out or cut away encircling roots. Dig the hole only to the same exact depth of the root ball but at least twice its width. If digging causes the sides of the planting hole to become slick, use the shovel tip to break it up.
Once the tree or shrub is positioned in the hole, carefully backfill it with the same soil that was dug out, making certain that no air pockets remain around the root ball. Use excess soil to form a basin for retaining water. Do not stake trees. Water deeply as needed for the first year. It’s time to water when you can’t push a screwdriver more than six inches into the soil or if it feels too dry to the touch when you pull it out.