How to Plant Your Tree
Select an area with lots of sun for your new trees. If you’re planting a hedge or row, create a visual guide by placing stakes in the ground, three to six feet apart and looping string around them. Dig a hole for each tree so that it is just shallower than the root ball and at least twice the width. Break up and loosen the soil in the planting hole so the roots can easily break through. Also, if your tree arrived in a container, remove it and loosen the soil so that the roots spread out.
Placing Your Tree in the Hole The top of the root flare, where the roots end and the trunk begins, should be about an inch above the surrounding soil. Then make sure the tree is exactly vertical in the hole.
Backfilling Your Hole As you put dirt back in the hole, water your planting site to remove air pockets. Remove rocks or grass, and completely break up any dirt clumps. Water your tree again after the transplant is complete. To keep the tree’s roots warm and moist, mulch around your tree 2″-3″ up to but not touching the trunk.
Dig a large hole. For smaller/younger plants, your hole needs to be several feet across, and also several feet deep. For larger plants, as well as small, the general rule is that the hole’s diameter (from one side of the hole to the other) should be three times the width of the root system when it is spread apart. This hole again should be several feet deep, at least 10in. deeper than the plant’s roots go.
Planting your tree/shrub:
Place some dirt back into the bottom of your hole. (This has helped loosen some soil for your plants roots to grow down into.) Place your tree upright into the hole and begin to backfill the hole with dirt, and if desired some premium soil from your local garden shop. You want to be sure that your Root Collar (the original soil line of the plant) is even with the ground. While filling, pack the ground gently and add water to fill any air holes. This will also be your plant’s first drink in its new home!
Most new trees/shrubs need general watering the first weeks/months they are in your yard. Be careful not to over water. (An over-watered tree often looks like an under-watered tree. If you see your tree wilting, and are constantly watering, back off with the water and see how your plant does on its own for a bit.) During a dry spell, be sure to deeply water your tree and the surrounding soil once a week. Take extra care when watering fruit trees.
Mulch is a garden’s best friend. It holds down grasses and weeds that will compete with your new plants roots for water, and also helps the soil retain water. It helps the soil from becoming overly compacted and acts as an insulator during the winter months. Create a mulch bed around your tree that is 2-3 inches thick, while encircling your tree with a several foot diameter. It is also recommended to leave a slight area mulch free just where your trunk reaches the ground.
Bare Root Planting Directions
Bare-root plants come directly from the field at Fast Growing Trees Nursery. They have been dug up and shipped directly to you, without any dirt covering the root system. Bare-root plants also have a gel-like chemical on their roots called Terrasorb. This chemical helps retain moisture within the roots, versus potted plants with soil which can often dry out when it is shipped long distances. Because of this, Bareroot plants have special needs when you get them. These need to be planted As Soon As Possible once you receive them. The roots need to be protected by dirt to keep from drying out. If weather or circumstances prevent you from planting immediately, you must keep the plant in a cool area (temperatures ranging from 34° to 45° are ideal) where the roots can be kept moist. Another option you have is called “heal-in”. This basically means throwing dirt over the roots to protect them and help them retain moisture. The plant can be leaned over at an angle, the most important thing is that the roots are completely covered, just don’t cover the stem.
Following the directions below will help get your plant ready for a gorgeous springtime with new foliage and, depending on your tree, beautiful blooms!
- Unpack your new trees from Fast Growing Trees Nursery and immediately soak them in water for a period of 2-3 hours. Soaking will be sure to replenish this much needed moisture. You do not need to clean off the additional “terrasorb” gel.
- Dig a hole 2 times the depth of your root system and 2 to 3 times the width of the plant. This will ensure that your tree’s root system will have enough room to grow.
- Clip off any damaged or broken roots. Never cut off all of your roots…without any roots, your plant will not grow.
- Plant your tree in the hole so that the root collar is level with the surrounding soil level.
- Fill the hole with fresh, NEW soil (garden soil from a hardware/garden center). Gently pack soil so there are no air spaces around your roots. Many people create a ring around their tree with soil to help the tree retain water.
- Water the area until flooded. If your soil sinks slightly, add more new soil, pack and water.
- Cover the area with an organic mulch .
- Discard old soil that was dug up for your hole.
- Be sure to generously water your plant once every week to ten days the first few months. Keep area weed free!
Potted Container Planting Directions
Selecting a Container
Keeping trees in containers makes it easier to move the trees around and makes them more suitable for small patios and rental properties. There are a wide variety of pots available in different shapes, styles, and materials. Choosing the right container is just as important as selecting the right plants for your patio. You need to select a container large enough to house your trees root system. It should also be large enough that you are able to transfer the plant from it easily if the root ball begins to outgrow the pot. Synthetic and other nonporous containers hold in moisture, whereas unglazed containers such as clay pots dry out faster. Plastic containers typically provide the easiest maintenance and are durable through any season. Though recently, there are some manufacturers producing durable all weather containers made from clay and fiberglass.
The size of the container also depends on the size of the plant. Most trees will come in a 1-5 gallon size pot; depending on the variety and the nursery. If you purchase your tree in a nursery pot it is best to also purchase a container that is one size larger. Containers have limited space for the trees’ roots to grow. As a result, the container should be large enough that the root system can spread out, but not too large so that the tree is consumed by soil. Any tree that grows 20 or more inches per year should not be planted in a container. Additionally, if a tree will grow to be more than 10 feet once it matures you should plant it in a large container. Please Note: As your tree grows it should be repotted every 2-3 years.
No matter what type of container that you choose, make sure it has drain holes. These are important because without them the trees may become waterlogged and eventually die of root rot. The holes only need to be large enough so that any excess water can drain out of the pot. If you end up selecting a container that does not have holes you can actually drill some in yourself. Most decorative pots will not have drain holes and these are best used as a cover for plain pots. Self-watering containers offer many benefits. They provide a water reservoir where the trees roots have access to nourishment. These containers prevent the tree from being overwatered. Any additional water gets trapped in the attached side container. As a result your trees nutrients are not flushed out of the container drain holes. Overall these containers help promote healthy root growth.
Care and Maintenance
Patio trees are best kept in a sunny spot in the yard, or by a large sunny window. Also, patio trees often require being fertilized with a well-balanced tree fertilizer. Depending on the variety this can be done in the spring during the growing season, and often in the late summer or fall. Flowering trees usually need to be fertilized after flowering, and fruit trees during their fruit swell. Many fruit trees benefit from compost. However, it’s best to make sure it doesn’t dry out during hot or humid weather as this can harm flower and fruit production on certain trees.
Maintaining the size of your tree
Since the size of a tree is usually proportional to the size of its root system, planting in a container will ultimately restrict its size. However, if a tree does begin to outgrow its container, there are a couple of options. Depending on the variety you may eventually be able to transplant the tree into the ground. If the tree cannot be planted outside you can transplant it into a larger container. Minor pruning can also be done to help maintain the desired shape and size of the tree. Pruning also helps to promote plant health and encourages fruit and flower production. It also helps improve the plants appearance which is especially important in landscape design. Pruning is also a preventative measure that can be taken to protect plants from disease. For younger trees pruning helps train them to develop a stronger structure. However, be careful when pruning your plants. Many trees end up pruned improperly and have growth issues later. It is okay to shape your trees but take care not to prune back the leader stem. You can also remove any branches that cross or grow back towards the center of the tree. Remove any multiple leader stems on conifers or any tree where only one leader is desirable. Pruning is actually not as difficult as you may think. Most trees actually need little to no pruning unless you are trying to shape the tree. You will likely only need to prune off any damaged or diseased shoots. When pruning fruit trees during the summer you can prune all the previous new growth off to encourage fruit buds. It is also a good idea to prune fruit off a newly fruiting tree to get better quality fruit in the years to come, and prevent stressing the tree out.
Moving Patio Plants Indoors
When the temperatures start to cool you may start thinking about bringing your patio trees inside. Depending on your zone, it may be best to bring the plants indoors once the temperatures consistently dip below 50 degrees. Prior to bringing any trees indoors consider their health. Any trees that were struggling outdoors will not fare any better once inside. If anything moving them inside will stress the tree further. Be sure to check your tree for any pest or fungus problems. If your tree does have pest, we recommend treating it 2 weeks prior to moving it indoors. Once the pests are under control you can prep your plants for going inside. Place your trees in a shady spot for two weeks in order to help them acclimate once indoors. That way the plants will be less likely to be stressed and drop leaves. If you want to bring a plant indoors that was planted in the ground make sure to pot it a few weeks before bringing it indoors. Be sure to use potting mix and not ground soil. Ground soil will not drain well in the container, and could possibly have insects inside it. Before moving your plants indoors be certain you have the right location for them. They will thrive best if placed near a window with bright sunlight coming inside. Patio plants also like high humidity. The air inside your home will likely be dry especially when you have the heat running. If there is not enough moisture in the area the foliage on your trees will become dry, crispy, and may even turn brown. You can use a spray bottle and mist the leaves daily in order to provide more humidity for your trees.