If you’ve just purchased a new container-grown tree for your garden, then you’re probably wondering how to go about planting it. Here’s a step-by-step guide for you to follow:
Choose the Right Time
Unlike bare root trees, pot-grown trees can be planted at any time of the year. However, ideally, avoid planting trees during the hottest months of the summer – they’ll struggle to establish in the high temperatures. Likewise, planting when the ground is frozen should be avoided too. Again, this will prevent the tree from properly taking root, not to mention the fact that digging a hole in frozen ground is never fun!
Prepare Your Growing Area
Hopefully, you’ve already spent some time choosing the perfect growing area for your new tree, taking everything from light and moisture levels to soil quality into account.
Once you’ve chosen your planting area, you’ll then need to prepare it. Don’t worry, it’s easy. Start by thoroughly weeding the area, removing any grass too. Give your tree at least a metre of space in all directions. Even if you’re planting a large tree that will tower over any surrounding weeds, all of those weeds will still be stealing nutrients and moisture from the soil, which a newly-planted tree really needs.
Water Your Potted Tree
Before you start digging, place your potted tree into a larger container filled with water. You want those roots, as well as the soil surrounding them, to be well-saturated before they’re removed from their pot. Soak your tree for at least half an hour, and for no more than two hours.
Dig a Hole
Take a good look at the size of the pot that your tree is growing in, and then dig a hole that’s just slightly larger than this. Many experts claim that square holes are better for the roots than round holes. Whichever you choose, use a spade to gently loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole that you dig. This will make it easier for the roots to extend deeper into the ground.
Plant Your Tree
Gently ease your tree out from its pot and give the roots a quick once-over. If your tree looks pot-bound, tease out any roots that have tightly circled around. This is also a good time to trim away any damaged roots.
Then, place your tree into the hole that you’ve dug. Set it in so that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the soil. Although applying a fertiliser at this point is not usually recommended, but a sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi will help the roots to establish faster.
Mix the soil that you removed from the hole with some quality compost, and then use this to fill the hole back in. Firm the soil down around your tree, and then water your tree well.
If you’ve planted your tree in a very exposed and windy spot, a stake could be helpful for the first couple of years to give your tree some extra support.
Even if you’ve planted a low-maintenance tree, such as a Queensland Bottle Tree or a Grass Tree, a newly-planted tree will still need some extra care for its first couple of seasons. Don’t allow its soil to ever dry out, and consider applying a mulch around your tree to cut back on the amount of weeding that you’ll need to do. Giving your tree some extra love at the beginning will allow it to really thrive, after which it will then start to take care of itself.