Most of us begin a new year with resolutions–to exercise more, to eat right, to spend our time more productively–but few things have as many lasting impacts for the future as the simple act of planting a tree.
Arbor Day (which literally means, “Tree Day”) was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, a naturalist and journalist in Nebraska. By 1882, it was celebrated by thousands of schoolchildren nationwide, who planted trees and took care of them with their classmates. Today, millions of communities and schools celebrate Arbor Day all over the world. Trees provide endless benefits, including shade, recreation, food and building products, shade and wind protection, wildlife habitat, oxygen production and carbon dioxide uptake.
Arbor Day is typically celebrated in the United States on the last Friday of April, but as ideal tree-planting conditions differ by climate, each state has its own specific Arbor Day, as well. Winter is the ideal time to plant trees in Florida, because it allows roots to develop without expending energy on growing new leaves and shoots. Our state celebration this year is January 16th.
Many local communities in Florida hold special events around this time. Be sure to check with your local Extension office or Native Plant Society chapter to find out if they are offering free trees or public events this month. For more information on the best trees for your area, be sure to take the time to read “Native Trees for North Florida” or peruse the UF Environmental Horticulture web page.