Planning: Visiting the planting site before seedlings are delivered is an important start. This may help you avoid unforeseen issues on planting day. You might dig several test holes, as well.
Weather: To minimize seedling stress, choose a calm, cool, cloudy planting day when possible. Warm, sunny or windy days will increase the likelihood of roots drying out. Seedlings exposed to these conditions may have a lower survival rate. It is critical that roots remain moist up to the moment the seedling is placed into the ground.
Planting methods: The method and speed at which you plant will depend on soil type and seedling size. As an example, sandy loam is far easier to plant quickly than heavy clay. Smaller seedlings can be planted more quickly than the large transplants due to the size of the root structure.
Root Dips: Using a root dip is recommended when possible and even more important if you are unable to provide suggested follow up care. We carry two products, Super Gel and Super Spore. These products are mixed with water to create a slurry. If you are interested in learning more about these products, or would like to add these to your cart, click HERE for Super Gel or HERE for Super Spore.
A note on root pruning: The roots of a tree collect and provide water and nutrients to the tree. A large and undamaged root structure is key to the survival of your seedling or transplant and should be carefully handled. When you hold up your tree and look at the roots, you will see a dense area of roots called the root mass and several straggler roots which may be longer. In order to accommodate planting a little easier, some people will opt to prune the roots of their trees. It is important to use a sharp instrument that will not damage or fray the roots, but rather make a clean cut. The longest straggler roots can be carefully trimmed off. In the event that you need to prune additional length off of the roots, never trim more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the root mass from the tree. Doing so will greatly impact the survival rate of your tree or shrub. If you need to prune, we recommend only trimming straggler roots and leaving the entire root mass intact if at all possible.
When it comes to planting bare root nursery stock there are two primary methods; the hole method and the slit method.
Hole method: Use a shovel and/or pick axe to dig a hole which is wide and deep enough to accommodate the root structure of the seedling. Next, place the seedling into the hole, spreading the roots out as much as possible. Do not allow the roots to bend or curl around inside the planting hole. Now, break apart the soil that was removed from the hole and place around the root system up to the root collar of the tree. The root collar is a noticeable line of change in the texture and bark color, which shows where the soil line was before the seedling was harvested. Finally, water the seedling in, making sure all roots are covered and no air pockets exist in the planting hole.
Slit method: Drive a planting bar or planting spade into the soil. Rock the implement back and forth to create a V-shaped hole in the ground. Next, place the seedling into the hole so the root collar is at or ever so slightly below ground level when the hole is closed. Be certain the hole is deep enough so the seedling will not experience a “J” root (roots which curl sideways or back up towards the top of the hole due to insufficient hole depth). Now, insert the planting implement into the soil, about 2”- 3” from the slit in which the seedling is placed. Pull the implement towards the seedling to close the hole containing the seedling. The slit must be closed firmly so air cannot reach the roots. Firm the soil around the roots so that it would take a moderate tug to dislodge the seedling from the planting site. Finally, water the seedling in.