GARDENING WITH CONFIDENCE
PREPRING A NEW HOLE FOR TREES OR SHRUBS
As the maintenance team from the Raleigh Garden Club was working in the Viburnum Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum, Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections reminds us not to plant too deep.\’a0 He recognized he was speaking to a group of experienced gardeners, but felt the need to remind us anyway and justly so. It is one of THE most common mistakes in planting plants.
DIGGING AND AMENDING SOIL
It is recommended to dig a hole 2 to 3 times as wide as the diameter of the root ball. This space gives roots a place to develop. It’s tempting to dig out less, but don’t. The good news though, is the depth only needs to be at or below the level in the pot, exposing the root ball.
To the native soil piled around the perimeter of the hole, add composted manure, composted leaves or bark, or in clay soil, add a permanent soil amender such as PermiTill. Take the shovel and chopped through the soil to mix in the soil amenders.
CONTAINER GROWN TREES AND SHRUBS
Remove the plant from the pot. Check the root system. The roots of container grown plants can grow in a circle. If the roots continue to grow this way, girdling can occur, often times killing the plant. Tease the roots to loosen them. This makes it easier for the roots to grow into the new soil.
BALLED AND BURLAPPED TREES AND SHRUBS
Plant balled and burlapped, B & B plants, such that the crown of the plant (at the base of the trunk) is a little bit higher than the outer edge. Handle the plant by the B & B, not the trunk. I’m often guilty of this. Handling it by the trunk, puts pressure on the roots since B & B plants are very heavy., pulling down on the root system causing stress.
BACK FILLING AND MAINTAINING
Position the plant to your liking. As with any plant, there’s always a better looking face. Rotate the plant until it is facing in the direction to present the best exposure.
Back-fill with lightly amended soil or the native soil. Don’t overly compass the soil by pressing on it with your foot. Just lightly compact the soil to remove large air pockets. Soil that is too compacted\’a0may prevent water from reaching roots. Water well to remove air pockets. Add 2\’3 inches of mulch, but be mindful not to put the mulch too close to the trunk.
Watch your new planting over the winter. In the absence of or in low rainfall, remember to water. Fertilizer once you observe new growth in the spring.
Gardening with Confidence