Caring for Your Tree
Storing Your Dormant Tree or Shrub Before Planting
If stored in the proper conditions, your dormant tree can actually be stored for well over a month before being planted! Whether you're experiencing unexpected cold weather, taking an impromptu vacation, or fully committed yourself to finishing the next best Netflix series, things can always happen in life that delay your plans. If you’re going to be keeping your tree for over a week before planting, please soak the roots with water every 3-4 days until you're ready!
Temperature is the most important aspect of where your tree is stored. An ideal temperature range for storing your dormant tree is 34° - 45° F. A night below freezing or a day of sunny 60° weather won’t necessarily be harmful (Remember, trees are tough!), but please do your best to keep your tree within this range. If kept in a location that’s consistently 55° F or warmer, your tree will sense that spring has arrived and prematurely awake from dormancy. If kept in a location that’s consistently below 25° F, freeze damage can stunt its growth rate in the spring and summer.
Planting Your Tree or Shrub in the Ground
Please be sure to soak roots in water for at least 60 minutes prior to planting! This ensures hydration and gives your tree the best possible beginning in its new location.
1. Choosing the Best Location to Plant
This is the first step towards cultivating your new tree in natural soil! Take care to find a location that where the soil is well-drained and there is not typically standing water throughout the year. A location with full sun is typically best for trees and a location with afternoon shade is generally best for young shrubs. Consider how you will water the plant in its new location. A spot that’s easily accessible with a garden hose will definitely help to ensure that your tree receives the hydration it needs!
2. Preparing the Soil to PlantYou’ve found the perfect place to grow your new tree and now it’s time to get your hands (or gloves) dirty. Using a shovel or spade, dig a hole in the soil just deep enough so that the entirety of the roots will be covered and the trees graft union is level with the ground. The width of your hole should be roughly twice that of the root ball on your plant. This allows Be sure to work the soil in the bottom of the hole until it is soft and loose as this will make it easier for roots to grow and find the nutrients that your plant needs!
- For trees, the proper depth is usually around 18 inches and the proper width is usually between 18-24 inches.
- For 1 Gallon potted shrubs, the proper depth is usually around 12 inches and the proper width is usually close to 12 inches.
3. Planting Tree in the Ground
Try not to disturb the straw around the roots of your tree during this process! Unwrap burlap. Do not remove straw from around the roots! Recycle or discard burlap as it is only used for wrapping trees during shipment. Try to keep straw in place around roots as much as possible, it will become an excellent natural slow-release fertilizer as it breaks down in the soil and its organic nutrients are absorbed by the roots of your tree. Place tree in the center and be sure that the roots are not touching the hard soil on the sides of the hole. Surrounding the roots with freshly worked, softer soil makes it much easier for them to grow! Begin filling the hole and be sure to compress the loose soil every 4-5 scoops with your foot or shovel in order to minimize air pockets and to better secure your tree in the ground! Continue until all of the loose soil is replaced back into the hole. The dirt will likely be piled into a small mound above the level ground, this is exactly what you want as the loose soil will settle over time. Last but not least, be sure to water your newly planted tree thoroughly in its new location to better compress the soil and encourage root growth!
Planting Your Tree in a Container
Given the proper care and attention, almost any tree or shrub can be grown in a container! Devoted gardeners choose to pot their tree for a number of excellent reasons, including limited space available, planting for decorative purposes, ease of care, and for the sheer versatility of being able to change the location a tree whenever necessary. Gardeners in apartments or other urban settings usually find this option most desirable!
1. Preparing to Pot Your Tree
In order to move forward with potting your new tree you will need to gather essentially only two things that can be found at virtually any garden center or hardware store; potting soil and the correctly sized container for the variety of tree you are planting. A 5-Gallon container is generally best for fruit trees and a 7-Gallon container is recommended for shade and flowering trees as they tend to grow larger more rapidly.
If this is your first time potting a young tree, we would recommend an organic blend of potting soil with the minimum amount of added fertilizers as this will minimize the risk of overfeeding your new tree with more nutrients than it needs. With this being said, many different gardeners continuously have success with many different choices of potting soil. Gardening and horticulture are all about developing your own techniques to care for your plants, so if you have a particular method you know to succeed then by all means, do what works best for you!