Wetmore's Gardening Advice - Planting and Care of Trees & Shrubs





Remove any plastic wrapping when you arrive home. If you can't plant immediately, place in a shady spot and water daily. Lift plants by the container or root ball, not the stem, to avoid loosening the root ball.


The hole for all shrubs and trees should be at least 60 cm (2 feet) wider and no deeper than the root ball or container. Place the excavated material on canvas or plastic spread over the grass, for easier cleanup.
Plants will drown when planted in a "bathtub" condition which can be caused when clay-like soils will not allow excess water to drain away from the roots.


The soil removed from the hole is the best soil to use around your plant. Break up all lumps and remove all stones larger than the size of a baseball. If you prefer (and the plant in question prefers non-acidic soil), stir in a hand full of agricultural lime. Avoid adding fresh manure and granular fertilizer as root damage could result.


The soil line of your new plant, when set in place should be at the original ground level. Ensure that containerized plants are saturated with water before planting. Plastic containers and grow bags must be removed before planting. Fibre pots and wooden hampers may be removed or left in the hole, but if left the sides must be cut down in 4 to 6 places, and the sides folded down to lay flat in the bottom of the hole, to permit root spread. Do this carefully to avoid damaging the root ball. Burlap wrapping and wire baskets may be left in place, but the burlap must be untied and folded back from the trunk to prevent girdling. Most of the wire basket can be cut out with wire cutters, and should be done unless you wish to keep the tree or shrub relatively small. roots will easily penetrate the burlap. With the plant in place, its best face forward, and the trunk or stem vertical, fill around the plant with the soil mixture to 5 cm (2 inches) below ground level. Then saturate the soil mix with fertilizer solution, pouring rapidly to wash down the earth and fill any voids. This will require 10 to 40 litres (2 to 10 gallons) of solution, depending on the size of the plant (see WATERING AND FEEDING below).


All single stem plants 125 cm (4 feet) or higher should be staked with at least two stakes to prevent excessive top movement and consequent root damage. 125 -300 cm (4 to 10 foot) plants require 2 stakes on opposite sides of the plant, or one steel stake with a clamp type fastener. One rubber band per stake, looped around the trunk or stem in the top third of the plant and nailed to the stake, will be adequate. trees over 300 cm (10 feet), should be supported by 3 guy wires. Guy wires (clothes line will work) should be run through a 12 inch length of garden hose, and looped around the trunk above a side branch in the top third of the tree. The hose prevents the wire from cutting into the trunk. The outer ends can be secured to 80 cm (2 1/2 foot) stakes, driven 60 cm (2 feet) into the ground, 200-300 cm (6 to 10 feet) out from the base of the trunk. All supports may be removed the following year.


After the fertilizer solution has settled away and staking completed, refill the hole with the soil mixture to the original ground level. Top-up the hole with 4 inches of mulch. This conserves moisture, helps control weeds, and improves the finished appearance of the planting. Four thicknesses of newsprint, or a layer of landscape fabric, covering the soil under mulch, will improve weed control.





Freshly planted material needs water - all summer long. The larger the plant, the drier the weather, the more water will be required. If the leaves start to wilt, more water is required. If Mother Nature supplies rain, you don't have to.


Suggested quantities (twice per week watering):


When spring planting, a second feeding of transplant fertilizer solution is suggested 4 weeks after planting, but no later than July 15th, in place of a normal watering. When planting after June 20th a second feeding is not required. If planting is done after September 15th, no fertilizer is required until next spring. No further feeding will be required this year. Evergreens need a thorough soaking just before freeze-up. Since they breathe all winter, adequate soil moisture will reduce the incidence of winter-burn. A wet autumn with lots of rain will suffice.


Your plants have been pruned adequately when potted or balled. Normally this is all that is needed for this year. For advise on pruning, see Tips & Notes on PRUNING.

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