How to plant trees & shrubs
It's Time to Plant
July 7, 2020
1) First, select the proper tree or shrub for the location you want to plant. Be sure to check the tag before purchasing and confirm whether your tree or shrub needs full sun, part sun, or shade. Full sun is 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day, part sun is 3-6 hours.
2) Call before you dig! Gas and electrical lines are often buried – check with your local authorities to ensure it is safe to dig.
3) Identify the trunk flare of your plant – this is where the trunk begins to flare out and become wider than the rest of the trunk. The flare should be just above soil-level when planted – planting the flare below soil can result in rot.
4) Dig a hole that is 2-3x as wide and just as deep as the pot your tree or shrub is in. Test your depth by placing the plant, still in the pot, in the hole and checking that the flare is going to be just above the soil once you backfill the hole.
Gardener's Tip: As you dig, create a pile of soil on either side of the hole. This will make backfilling the hole easier.
5) Remove your tree or shrub from the pot by gently squeezing and turning the pot to loosen the root mass, or use shears to cut the pot away from the roots.
6) Examine the root mass – if the roots are tightly wound, you will want to loosen them to encourage growing out into the surrounding soil. This can be done by hand on the bottom and sides. For especially pot-bound plants, you can even cut vertically up the sides and slightly pull apart the root mass. This will encourage new root development and push the plant to grow roots out from the root mass, instead of continuing circular development.
7) Place the tree or shrub in the hole once the root mass is prepped. Confirm that the trunk flare will be just above ground once planted. If needed, dig more soil or add some back to achieve the right depth.
8) Only lightly amend your soil - IF at all. While it used to be recommended to add organic material, time has shown that trees often do not extend their roots into the native soil from the amended material in the planting hole. Using your native soil helps encourage the plant to establish long, strong roots. Of course, your plant is being grown in nursery-soil in its pot, so you can add bagged/nursery soil, up to a 50/50 mix, with your native soil if you would prefer. This can help baby-step the tree or shrub from gorwing in more rich nursery soil to unaltered native soil.
9) Backfill the hole with the soil you dug, making sure to tamp it down. If left loose, soil around new plantings will settle, and can result in a bowl-shape that holds too much water and threatens to drown your new plant.
Gardener’s Tip: Use a root stimulator – we recommend Root & Grow from Bonide. It helps reduce transplant shock and stimulates new root growth. Follow the directions on the container – you will dilute the solution, then pour it over the roots as you are backfilling.
10) Add mulch! Spreading 2-3 inches of mulch over the entire root-area will help preserve moisture and reduce the risk of under watering. It also helps insulate the ground, and your tree or shrub’s roots, over winter.
11) Wait until next season to fertilize. Fertilizer, while a necessity for many plants, must be applied at the right time. When a tree or shrub is already experiencing transplant stress, adding fertilizer can overtax the plant. Once your plant is established, it can better absorb and use the nutrients.
12) Water deeply! Your new tree or shrub needs plenty of water to become established – long, slow watering is best. A drip hose is a great option, laid in a spiral pattern that covers the root-area. The amount of water your new plant needs depends on its size – monitor the soil and your tree or shrub as you begin watering and adjust as needed. You want the soil to be moist, but not soggy.
Gardener's Tip: Using a timer with auto-shut-off along with a drip hose saves time and effort, plus helps protect against over or under watering.
13) Adjust watering as needed. Water your tree or shrub every day for the first week, and then adjust to every-other day for 1-2 weeks. From there, you will have to water based on your observations – what the weather is like, how quickly the soil is drying out, how your plant is performing, etc. If your tree or shrub is losing more than half its leaves, this can indicate over-watering. If leaves are dry or browning at the edges, this usually indicates under-watering.
Gardener's Tip: When in doubt, dig into the soil and assess how wet it is – the top soil can be deceiving, so be sure to dig about 6 inches down.
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
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