Friday, December 29th, 2006...12:35 pm

Planting potted trees

I recevied the following question from Linsey:

I got a beautiful potted tree for Christmas. I’d like to plant it outside.
When do you recommend that I do this? Is there a proper procedure to
enhance the chances of survival?

The Garden Lady likes the idea of a potted tree for the holidays and hopes that your potted tree will survive for planting outdoors. But if the tree was not properly cared for, you may lose the tree when you plant it outdoors (see this). You might not notice that the tree is dead right away but a year later you might first notice that it has died. And the death of the tree might not be your fault- but that it was not properly kept before it was brought to you. I do hope your tree survives.

The two most important factors for successfully replanting and growing a live potted tree are to not allow the rootball to dry out and to avoid keeping the tree indoors for too long. Seven days indoors is a maximum time recommended; but five days is better. The tree likes coolness while in the house and to be kept away from any heating source. It is even dvisable to keep small electric lights on the tree to generate the least amount of heat.

Whenever the soil is diggable is a good time to plant the tree outdoors even though the root system prefers to acclimatize before really freezing temperatures. The sooner after Christmas you plant the tree, the better. If you can’t plant the tree right away, keep it in your garage where it is cool but not cold enough for the roots to freeze. Also, it is advisable to have your hole dug and keep the dug out soil in the garage so it will stay soft enough to enable you to plant the tree as soon as you can. The proper way of digging the hole to plant any tree is that trees should be transplanted no deeper than
the soil in which they were originally grown and the width of the hole should be at least 3 times the diameter of the root ball.

Good luck.

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