Planting Bare Root Seedlings

Essex, Ontario, Canada

My husband and I purchased quite a few bare root seedlings of Red Oaks, Black Locust, Common Lilac, and Choke Cherry - delivery was delayed by a month because our order got lost. They are on their way to us now - it is mid November. The weather here in Southwestern Ontario is hovering around 45 to 55 F during the day (this week we are up into the 60's), and between 35 and 45/50 F at night. We were told by two nurseries and one tree farm that planting in the fall was the optimal time which is why we placed the order in autumn to begin with. I then read online that they are best planted in early spring and now I'm panicking. Our shipment of 45 bare root seedlings are about to be delivered today and I don't know who is giving us the proper instructions. Can we plant them now (I really hope we can), or do we have to wait for Spring - and if we have to wait for Spring, how on earth do I keep all these little babies safe, comfortable and viable for the next five months?

Thank everyone so so very much for advise you might have.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

If worried about planting them in the ground you can pot them all up or heel them in until the spring

but I don't think planting now will be a problem

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would not plant any tree seedlings out in the ground now we are into November, the ground will be frozen over soon and also I would imagine that there will be foraging animals that will soon be in need of whatever tender shoots they can find so you may be loose too many on the saplings.
My advice for tree / shrub planting is always END of summer when the temp's are a bit cooler therefore NOT burning newly transplanted plants that have travelled to reach you, the next best time is spring when the soil is beginning to warm up and before the hot sun arrives, for spring planting of yopung shrubs or trees, I always plant with a larger hole or trench, add some upturned clear plastic drinks containers that you cut the bottom off, set into the planting holes with the small neck end placed into the soil beside the roots (in your case 1 container between each plant) then when you water you can fill up the containers so you know the roots are being watered and the sun cant evaporate whatever water is poured over the top soil.

For now I would make up a mixture of leaf mould / compost and plant all the saplings in individual pots or if very small plants arrive, use plant trays and set the little plants out 6 inches apart till spring, you must keep the plants either in a porch, water just enough to prevent drying out OR keep in a garage away from frost and just water enough to prevent from totally drying out, you could sink the pots / trays into straw filled boxes or sand that will prevent freezing, they will only be held inside or under protection for a few months till maybe end of March,
Good Luck WeeNel.

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