Q&As/Garden Trees/Planting Trees

Question

When I buy bare root trees to plant, please tell me how deep should the hole be and what is best to put in the hole i.e. compost or manure, or not add anything at all?

Answer

Traditionally, most trees were grown in the open ground for a number of years before being wrenched and dug up in early winter. Plants were then sold either bare root i.e. with no soil around the roots or were balled in hessian cloth with soil still attached to the roots of the plant. Today it is quite rare to find bare root trees for sale; they are usually placed in large bags or pots with growing medium before being sold. To purchase bare root plants, you will have to make inquiries in your area about the location of wholesale growers and if they will sell direct.

Site preparation and actual planting are very important when planting bare root plants. The soil should be dug over thoroughly, ensuring you break up any heavy soil, and adding generous amounts of compost to the existing soil.

As bare root plants usually have a more extensive root system than container grown plants, the actual planting site should be considerably larger than usual.

After placing the new plant in the hole, backfill with a mixture of compost and existing soil, ensuring that the tree is placed at the same depth it was previously growing. You may need to stake the new specimen tree if it is tall and prone to rocking in strong winds. Mulch after planting with additional compost or crushed bark and then water thoroughly to ensure the soil is in firm contact with the root system.

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