How to Plant Quick Links
- How to Prepare the Ground for Planting
- Planting From Containers
- Evergreen Trees
- Bare Root Stock
- Balled & Burlapped Stock
- Bush Fruits
- Broad-Leaved Evergreens, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Camellias, etc.
- Asparagus (Green)
- Fall Bulbs for Spring Flowers
- Summer Flowering Bulbs & Tubers
How to Handle Upon Arrival
Trees and Shrubs Bare Rooted
Take care of your nursery stock immediately upon its arrival. If dried out in transit, soak the entire plant in water for a few hours or bury it in wet soil.
If possible, plant at once when shipment is received. If the weather is too cold for planting, put the box or bundle in a cool but ‘frostproof’ place. It is best to unpack the material, sprinkle tops and all with water, cover the roots with damp packing and cover with sacks or canvas. If the weather is warm and you are not ready to plant, heel the stock in.
Balled Material: (Same as Evergreens)
Potted and Container Material
Place containers in a sheltered location and keep plants watered until time of actual setting out.
Heeling-In Trees and Shrubs
Heel-in your trees in a place where they will have protection from the sun and wind, and their development will be retarded. All packing material and grass that might harbor mice should be removed. Spread out roots and fill in with pulverized earth rather firmly over them. Keep earth moist.
How to Prepare the Ground for Planting
Prepare for planting by deep spading or plowing. On hillsides where the beds would wash or when set as specimens in lawns, shrubs and trees may be set in well dug holes in the sod, but for good growth the sod must be kept spaded two or three feet around the plant and this area kept cultivated or mulched.
Hole should be large enough so that bare roots are not crowded and so that 6 to 8 inches of space will surround balled or container material. Soil at bottom of hole should be loosened to 8 inch depth. Provide good soil and humus (peat moss, leaf-mold or rotted cow manure) mixture for back-fill. Fertilizing newly set material is not desirable.
How to Plant From Containers
Plants sold in containers of various types made of tin, treated paper, clay, molded organic material, etc. may be planted at any time of year outdoor soil conditions are favorable (even if in full leaf or flower) because such plants can be set into the soil without disturbing the roots or normal growth processes of the plant.
Plastic material should be removed from around the root (earth) ball of the plant before planting. Tin or clay containers with tapered sides may be inverted and tapped on edge lightly against something solid letting the root ball slide out into the hand.
Straight sided containers should be slit or cut from top to bottom. Other tops may be set directly into soil without removing and will eventually disintegrate. Follow the directions specific for the type of container used, but always take care that the growing roots are not disturbed through crackling or crumbling of the earth around them, or the benefits of such merchandising are destroyed. If the soil in the container is fairly moist, the ball will hold together better and when handling the plant, always lift it by the container or earth ball, not by the plant top.
Plant in a generous sized hole to about the same level as plant was in container. Water generously before hole is completely back-filled to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Subsequent cultural care is the same as for planting by other methods but immediate effect and growth is usually faster because the plant has had a minimum of shock in the transplanting process.
How to Plant Evergreen Trees
How to Plant Bare Root Stock
Many failures of newly transplanted stock are due to the lack of proper pruning. When trees are dug, some of the feeding roots are cut off; therefore, when transplanting it, it is necessary to restore the balance between the roots and the top by removing part of the tops through heading back, thinning, and spacing of the branches.
In pruning, make a clean sharp cut. Do not leave stub ends when removing branches. All tools should be sharp.
In planting, dig generous sized holes with perpendicular sides (never saucer shaped). Put the good surface dirt to one side so that it can be used around the roots. Loosen up the soil in the bottom of the hole. Set trees one or two inches deeper than they stood in the nursery; set shrubs at about the same depth they stood in the nursery or slightly deeper. Spread roots out naturally and work soil well over and around them. Keep putting in the dirt with alternate layers of peat or compost until the hole is nearly full, tramping the dirt firmly about the roots. Fill the hole with water. Finally fill up the hole with loose dirt which should not be tramped, leaving a saucer like depression to retain water. A 2 inch mulch of peat or strawy manure on top is beneficial. Do not fertilize until second year when feeding roots are established.
Prune away about one-third to one-half of top depending upon the number of roots lost in digging. Prune to keep the normal shape of the plant. Cut just above a bud or close to a twig, branch, or trunk. Remove small and crowding branches and try to form a well developed head with a strong leader and branches at wide, not close angles. Never cut out the central leader. Cut off all broken roots. Plant as directed. Trees over 8 feet tall should be staked or guyed to brace them against wind pressure. Run wires through loops of rubber hose to avoid cutting into bark. Some smooth barked trees varieties need wrapping with good commercial tree wrap to prevent some scald.
With branched fruit trees such as peach, cherry, plum, apple and pear trees, select three to five side branches on different sides of the trunk and 6 to 8 inches apart and cut back one third their length. Select one of the top upright branches and cut it back in proportion to the side branches. Cut off all other branches close to the truck.
With Fruit Tree Whips having no side branches, simply cut off the top just above a bud 2 to 2 1/2 feet from ground.
Protect young fruit trees trunks from rodent and rabbit damage with collars of hardware cloth 6 inches to 8 inches in diameter and 2 feet high.
Dwarf Fruit Trees
Plant with bud union at least 4 inches above the ground. Trucks should be tied to permanent steaks.
To plant follow same procedure as given for Fruit Trees.
Fruit trees should always be protected against bark girdling by mice and rabbits. Two foot links of a galvanized wire screen (hardware cloth) formed into an 8 inch circle about the young trunks is a reliable protection.
Cut off damaged or frayed roots before planting. Thin out tops of many branched shrubs, removing the old wood. Cut tops back one-third to one-half. Never allow roots to become dry.
To plant follow same procedure as given above.
When planting ‘groundcovers,’ start at the farthest point away in the area you are about to plant and distribute the ‘groundcover’ evenly and outwards (like painting yourself into a corner). Water well, and remember to water regularly until they have started to grow.
Plant small shrubs which are to form a hedge less than 2 feet in height 10 to 12 inches apart on centers. Medium-sized bushes, 12 to 18 inches apart on centers. Set tall shrubs or trees for high hedges 2 to 4 feet apart.
For the latter it is often more practicable to dig individual holes then to set by the trench method. A double staggered row of plants makes the most effective hedge.
Prune tops back to 6 inches to 12 inches above the ground. Each spring the hedge can be trimmed back to the desired height and width. Frequent trimming during early summer will make the hedge grow dense. Trim both the sides and the top or else hedge will grow wider at the top and become open at the bottom.
How to Plant Balled & Burlapped Stock
Balled and burlapped trees and shrubs are plants that have been grown in nursery fields, dug with the much of the root ball and soil intact, wrapped with burlap, and secured with either twine, rope, or wire caging. Plants sold as balled and burlapped (B&B) are typically large and are often suitable for fast transplanting. Like all plants, they typically transplant best during dormancy around late fall and early winter. The root ball of B&B plants is often pruned at the nursery to consolidate the root system. It is especially important to always carry B&B plant stock by the wrapped portion of the root ball and never by the trunk or stem. When choosing your B&B stock, be sure to inspect the root ball carefully, as broken and loose soil often indicates root damage to the plant. Do not allow the B&B root ball dry out or be exposed freezing winter temperatures for an extended period of time before planting.
When preparing to plant, the burlap and twine should not be removed unless it is made from synthetic material. (Often burning a small piece of the wrapping material can help in this identification as synthetic materials when typically melt while natural materials will not.) Next, remove any burlap from the top of the root ball as exposed burlap will often remove moisture from the soil. Do not remove the wire basket or supporting wires as doing so could potentially damage the root ball. Dig a a generous sized hole to about the same level as the top of the plant’s root ball. After positioning the B&B plant in the hole, water generously before hole is completely back-filled to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Subsequent cultural care is the same as for planting by other methods but immediate effect and growth is usually faster because the plant has had a minimum of shock in the transplanting process.
How to Plant Strawberries
12 to 18 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Keep all runners nipped off.
Rows 4 to 5 feet apart, plants set 24 inches apart in row. Allow runners to fill 24 inches wide. Plow or spade land deeply before planting. Plant by pushing spade into ground to its full depth and spot where plant is to be. Press it to one side, insert roots and spread them out in fan shape and hanging down to their full length. Set plant with crown at surface or a little below it. Remove spade and press dirt against roots.
Currants and Gooseberries
Set 2 or 3 inches deeper than in nursery. Cut off half the tops. Plant 4 or 5 feet apart. Most currant or gooseberry pests can be controlled by dusting or spraying with Seven. Always cut out infested canes.
Red and Black Raspberries and BlackBerries
Plant in good garden soil 3 to 5 feet apart in rows 6 feet apart. Set Red Raspberry plants 1 to 2 inches deeper than they were in the nursery and Black Raspberry 1 inch deeper. Firm soil over roots, and water. Cut back all plants to about 6 inches in height. Don’t let any fruit set the first year. Allowed new shoots to make rows 6 to 8 inches wide.
After fruiting each year, cut old canes and burn, leaving a few vigorous new ones to grow for fruiting the following year. These fruiting canes should be cut back to about 2 1/2 feet early in the spring to encourage fruiting laterals. Mulching always pays. In the spring, spray raspberries and blackberries just before the buds open, with lime sulfur or Bordeaux mixture.
How to Plant Blueberries
Highbush Blueberries are a worthwhile addition to the home fruit garden-IF soil requirements are right. Soil should be moist, light textured, contain a high proportion of organic matter, test acidity from pH 4.0 to 4.5. Set bushes 6 feet each way. Mulch every year with 3 to 4 inches of sawdust or peat. Alternate shallowly because of shallow root system. Plant in sun for good yields.
How to Plant Broad-Leaved Evergreens, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Camellias, Etc.
These plants require an acid soil (about pH 5) either maintained or created artificially, a moist situation but one with excellent drainage, and a light soil with a high proportion of humus. As they are shallow rooted, plant them high, maintain at least a 3 inch mulch around them and never cultivate. Where winter protection is necessary, spraying the foliage with plastic spray is helpful.
How to Plant Rhubarb
How to Plant Asparagus (Green)
Set Asparagus 2 feet apart if in a single row, with rows spaced 3 feet apart if in a bed. Plant to cover roots as for any perennial. Prepare soil by spading plenty of humus and fertilizer into it. Asparagus likes plenty of feeding so fertilize liberally with stable manure each year. Start cutting stocks when they are as thick as your thumb. Never cut thin stalks as they are probably young plants which will renew your bed. Stop cutting June 1-15 to allow bed to build up for next year.
Dig the hole broad and deep. Cut back the top to 2 or 3 strong buds. Plant deep to prevent roots from drying out. Fill the hole with compost or rich soil. Plant firmly, water well and mulch top. The first year tie most vigorous shoot to steak to form truck of vine and frequently remove all other shoots and suckers.
How to Plant Perennials
The soil should be well work in specially prepared beds 2 feet to 2 1/2 feet deep with good drainage. Plant food and plenty of humus are necessary ingredients for successful perennial flower growing. Most perennials respond best if planted in a sunny location.
No. 1 plants (see below) such as Iris should be planted with the roots below the surface of the ground and the rhizome just on the surface.
No. 2 plants such as Peonies should be planted with the tips of the buds just below the surface of the ground (about 1 inch). Peonies will not bloom well it planted too deeply or if deprived of ample plant food.
No. 3 plants, on which the leaves spring from a crown, should be planted with the crown just at the dirt line.
No. 4 plants with a fleshy root such as Hollyhocks should be planted with the tap root straight down and the bud just below the surface of the dirt. In all planting, spread the roots out naturally and do not crowd. Bring the soil in contact with all roots and press firmly. Water thoroughly.
Most winter injury to herbaceous perennials is caused by alternate freezing and thawing of the soil. A mulch of salt hay, straw or leaves applied to the ground after it is frozen will prevent injury to most perennials. Plants which maintain a crown of green leaves through the winter, such as Shasta daisies, will need special protection in the way of a mulch which will not pack down and cause the leaves to rot. Some plants, such as Chrysanthemums, will benefit from an mulch of sand.
Many perennials make rapid growth and need the dividing every few seasons. Large clumps produce mediocre bloom because the inside roots are starved and crowded. Perennials may be divided and reset in either early fall or spring.
How to Plant Fall Bulbs for Spring Flowers
Spring blooming bulbs such as tulips, narcissi and hyacinths must be planted in the fall-narcissi and the small bulbs like crocus-in early fall (September): tulips and lilies as late as the ground is workable. Fall planted bulbs should be planted in specially prepared beds which possess good natural drainage. The most satisfactory soil for growing bulbs is a fibrous loam well supplied with sharp sand. See planting chart below.
Tulips may be planted deeper than indicated to 1 foot if soil is not too heavy and the location is permanent. Narcissus may be naturalized in the grass or woodland. Foliage must be allowed to yellow before cutting.
How to Plant Lilies
The most desirable soil for lilies is a loose sandy loam which should be enriched by top dressing of manure and should be well-drained. Plant lilies in groups about 4 to 6 inches deep for base rooting types, 5 to 8 inches for stem rooting. Tip bulbs on sods slightly and surround with a few handfuls of sand to assure sharp drainage around each bulb. They may be left in the ground from year-to-year.
How to Plant Summer Flowering Bulbs and Tubers
Most summer flowering bulbs are warm weather plants. Don’t plant too soon. Cannas, Tuberous Begonias and Dahlias may be started in flats indoors and set out after danger of frost. Tritomas should be planted in early spring. Gladioli can be planted at ten-day intervals for a succession of bloom allowing 70 to 90 days from maturity.
How to Plant Roses
Select a site that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day and drains well. Don’t plant roses too close to trees or shrubs whose roots will compete for soil nutrients. A site with good air circulation helps prevent disease. When the soil is poor dig out the beds to a depth of 18 inches to 2 feet. Mix the soil with 25% peat moss and about 10% compost or well rotted material. Rose plants purchased in containers should be removed-following procedure recommended by grower for type of container used-and set in ample holes to proper depth. Fill in with soil and water generously to eliminate air pockets.
To plant dormant bare root roses, dig holes large enough to accommodate roots without crowding and deep enough to set them at proper height. The lower part of the bud union or crown of the plant should be level with the surface of the ground in mild climates-1 to 3 inches below in severe climates.
Spread the roots so that they point downward at a 45° angle. A mound or cone of soil built up in the hole under the base of the bush as one plants is helpful in spreading the roots. (See cut,”B”) Cover the roots with loose soil, working it well underneath.
Fill the hole three quarters full and tamp soil down firmly; water well. Fill hole and mound over top 6 inches until growth starts, to prevent drying out of canes.
Winter protection of roses in severe climates should consist of an 8 inch earth mound (see cut, “A”) over the base of the bush. And the milder climates a 3 inch earth protection is sufficient.
Rose foliage is a vital part of the rose plant. Do not cut it lavishly through the growing season. Spray or dust regularly.
Roses like cool roots. A 3 inch mulch of peat moss or other suitable material keeps soil cool, conserves moisture and prevents weed growth.