Digging a Hole
It’s essential to dig the best hole for your valuable new shrub.
- Dig a hole that is as deep, and twice as wide as the container the shrub is in.
- Mix in organic matter (peat, humus, mushroom compost, garden compost, or manure) with your native soil until you obtain a 50-50 mix.
- If the plant is in a plastic container, gently but firmly grasp it at the soil line and remove from the container.
- If the plant is in a peat pot or other plantable container, cut or tear off the lip around the top and score down the sides in two or three places.
- If the plant is balled and burlapped, it is not necessary to remove the burlap. Instead position the plant in the hole, level it, and backfill a bit to stabilize it. Cut the strings, remove the nails, and scrunch the burlap down around the ball with your hands or a shovel. The burlap will rot and the roots will grow through it. Make sure none of the burlap is left exposed to the air.
- If the plant is in a wire basket, simply bend the top “ears” of the basket back flush with root ball, and plant as normal.
- Don’t pack the soil after filling in the hole.
- Use the remaining soil to form a shallow bowl around the perimeter of the hole and fill the basin with plain water.
Apply a fertilizer, like Ferti-lome Root Stimulator, to promote leaf growth and flower development. Dilute Ferti-lome Root Stimulator at 3½ tablespoons per gallon of water. Apply at planting and two more times at ten day intervals. Always water it in well. Use 1 to 2 gallons for 4-foot tall plants and 2 to 3 gallons for 24″ or greater diameter root balls.
In your shrub’s second year, apply a granular fertilizer such as Ferti-lome Tree & Shrub Food in late winter or early spring. Follow the directions on the package and water well after application.
Apply a mulch to conserve moisture, maintain an even soil temperature, and reduce weeds. Use an organic mulch such as cypress, cedar, or shredded hardwood bark. Maintain the mulch layer at 2″ to 3″ deep. Decorative rock mulches may also be used, with the exception of CA6, a road building gravel. Do not mulch up to the bark of the plant. Leaving an open space helps deter burrowing rodents from damaging the plant’s bark.
More plants die from too much water than from too little. If you have heavy clay soil, less frequent watering is required. By contrast loose, sandy soil drains readily and more water may be necessary to ensure plant establishment. Observe your plants. If the leaves wilt and respond to water, water more often. If wilt occurs and/or the leaves turn lighter green to yellow and do not recover after watering, then you are overwatering. Water less and let the soil dry.
To protect your plant from rabbit or deer damage, use Liquid Fence. This product won’t hurt the animals, but will leave a bad taste in their mouths.
Newly planted trees and shrubs generally require no pruning; the plant needs all the reserves in its branches to establish quickly in your landscape. Of course, broken or damaged limbs should be removed and minor shaping is appropriate. The ideal pruning time varies with the plant. Avoid pruning from August through mid-October. Late summer pruning can induce new growth that won’t have time to harden off before winter.
But the ideal time to prune flowering shrubs is after the blooms are gone. Prune spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia, Flowering Almond Viburnum, etc., after the spring show. Prune summer flowering shrubs such as the Dwarf Pink Spirea group, Potentilla, Rose of Sharon, or Smokebush, after the summer blooms are gone.