You’ve made the exciting choice to plant a new shrub or tree! Congratulations! Not sure what to do now that you are home and ready to actually put your plant in its new space? Here is how to plant shrubs and trees.
How to Plant Shrubs & Trees
STEP ONE: Dig the planting hole. Dig a hole 2 to 3 times the width and same depth as the root ball. It is important to give the root ball a space that is level so the plant sits straight. You dig the hole wider than the root ball so fresh, less compact soil can go around it. Your plant’s roots will grow faster and stronger in soil that is high in nutrient value and softer and easy to move through.
STEP TWO: Amend the backfill soil with organic matter. Add approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of bag of organic matter such as Sweet Peet, Garden Magic Composted Manure or Peat Moss.
What type of soil amendment should I use for my shrub or tree?
- Organic Sweet Peet
Our favorite option! This soil amendment will add nutritional value to your landscape’s soil while improving the soil’s texture and quality. The product is heat-treated and will not contain weed seeds.
- Pine Bark Soil Conditioner
A great option when dealing with extremely clay soil and for acid-loving plants. Pine Bark Soil Conditioner is the best for improving clay soil quickly. Use when planting azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris japonica, dogwood trees and shrubs as well as blueberry bushes and arborvitaes because they are acid-loving plants.
- Garden Magic Composted Manure
A great, inexpensive option for breaking up clay and adding nutritional value. As it is not heat treated, it can carry weed seeds from what the cows ate!
STEP THREE: Prepare the plant. Water thoroughly, if dry. If plant is potted, remove the root ball from the pot. If the plant does not come out easily, do not be afraid to cut the pot away. Disturb the root ball to break up root growth pattern. Set shrub upright in hole and verify the planting depth is correct. You want the crown of your plant to meet the top of the soil line. You do not want to bury it or have it sitting above the soil line exposed. The crown is there the stem meets the soil of the root ball.
STEP FOUR: Fill hole and build a basin. Fill hole with amended soil and press down firmly. Build a basin around the plant so that the water drains away from the stem and concentrates near the edge of the root ball.
STEP FIVE: Water your plant thoroughly! Until your new plant is established, you will need to consistently water it. It can take 3 to 4 months or more if we experience drought conditions. For instructions on how to properly water, visit our Guide to Plant Watering.
What care do my plants need each year?
Fertilize your shrubs and trees
It is vital to fertilize your perennials and shrubs every year, ideally twice. Fertilize your shrubs and trees in the spring and fertilize them in the fall. You’ll catch their growing wave with our warmer days and cooler nights. We also receive more stead rainfall in the spring and fall. Why should I fertilize? Feeding your plants give them nutrients to grow stronger, bigger and flower more frequently.
- Acid Loving Shrubs and Trees – Organic Holly-Tone
- Perennials and Shrubs – Organic Plant-Tone
- Rose Bushes – Organic Rose-Tone
Trim your shrubs and trees
Each shrub will require different care! Follow your plant tags for guidance. Boxwoods, arborvitaes, and junipers often do not require trimming care where willows, hibiscus, lilacs, roses and hydrangeas do need trimmed back. For example, some hydrangeas grow on old stems where other varieties grow on new stems only. For hydrangea help, visit our Guide to Hydrangeas. (Insert link here.)
Mulch around your shrubs and trees
Mulching around your plants does the following:
- Keep the plant’s roots cool
- Helps the plant avoid drought by retaining moisture
- Acts as an insulator during the winter months to keep the plant warm
The Growth Timeline of Perennials and Shrubs
- Year One – You’ll see new growth and flowers
- Year Two – the plant will grow, but not much bigger than the previous year. Why is this? All of the growing action is happening under the soil.
- Year Three – Your plant will grow leaps and bounds because the growth is happening above the soil.