Planting 101

Over the years we have learned a thing or two about caring for our beautiful plants. We’ve assembled some of the more commonly asked questions we get. We hope these tips and advice help you enjoy your new plants.

The following are the most commonly asked questions when you purchase one of our beautiful plants or trees.

Q: How should I handle my plant or tree when it arrives?

A: You should take care of your tree or plant immediately when it arrives. If your stock arrives frozen you should allow it to thaw out gradually. You should always plant at once when the item arrives. If weather is not proper (for example it is too cold for planting) you should put the box in a cool but frost-proof place. We encourage unpacking the item, douse tops and all with water, cover the roots with a damp packing and cover with a sack or canvas. If weather is warm and you wish to delay planting, heel the stock in.

Q: What should I know about heeling-in shrubs and trees for temporary planting?

A: You need to make sure you can protect your trees from the sun and wind or this may hurt their development. Packing material and grass that could contain mice should be removed. Spread the roots and fill in with pulverized earth firmly over the roots.

Q: How do I plant a tree or shrub (bare-root)? This includes fruit trees, nut trees and roses.

A: There are several steps to follow in planting a tree or shrub. Follow these steps for success.

   1. Dig a hole 1 1/2 times the depth of root mass and about twice width of plant. Partly fill the hole with soil.

   2. Remove all packaging materials from around the roots, and cut off broken or damaged roots.
   3. Place shrub or tree in hole so that crown or graft is at ground level.
   4. Fill the hole to ground level while working soil in carefully around roots and packing it down.
   5. Sink hose nozzle into root zone and water until surface is flooded.
   6. After water settles away, add soil to ground level and form soil dam around perimeter of area.
   7. Mulch area with organic material.

Q: How should I water my plants purchased from The USA Nursery?

A: Once you have planted your tree or shrub, water it once a day until it begins to put on a new growth. Once this new growth starts you should water the plant at least three times a week for its first growing season. If a good rain occurs this can take the place of watering but a sprinkle or shower will not meet the needs of a tree. After the growth of the second season you can water the trees thoroughly once a week unless a heavy rain occurs.

Good options for mulch during the first season are decomposed compost, straw or hay. If you mulch with compost this will stimulate feeder root growth and encourage the tree to take hold quickly. Cover the ground around the tree up to the dripline but you should keep a few inches to a foot of space clear around the tree to prevent rodents such as mice away from the bark, which is quite fragile. Consider installing a wire mesh around the tree to protect and deter rodents. This should be a foot and a half across. Make sure the protective mesh is firmly and deeply into the ground to prevent mice and rodents from burrowing under it.

Q: What are the soil requirements for ground covers?

A: The soil requirements for ground covers can vary. The USA Nursery advises you use easily crumbled soil with plants that are shallow-rooted types. This will make the plant less susceptible to winter freezing, thawing, and other root stresses.

With small ground cover plants, including nearly all low shrubs and perennials, they should be spaced 6 to 12 inches apart depending on species and size of plants.

Boxwood, needled evergreens and boxwood are large, woody plants and you should allow for more space between planting. Be cautioned though, if the plants are positioned too far apart the ground could erode or become over taken with weeds before the plants grow together.

Q: What are the soil requirements for hedges?

A: If a hedge drops its leaves then is can be planted in either the spring or fall. Set the hedge plants a little lower than they were in the nursery to get a dense hedge at bottom.

With the exception of evergreens, small plants should be set a foot apart. Privets and other smaller hedges can be set closer. With large plants they are set farther apart either in a trench or in individual holes.

We recommend using a string between two stakes in the planting area to get a straight hedge. You can also dig one side of trench straight in line and place plants against the straight side. You can visually line up any plants not symmetrically balanced.

To encourage bushing from the base and also reduce the excessive loss of water while your plants are establishing root systems you should cut back severely at planting. This applies for all hedges save evergreens.

Q: How should I take care of my red/black raspberries or blackberries?

A: You should plant with quality garden soil 3 to 5 feet apart in rows 6 feet apart. Set black raspberries one inch deeper than in the nursery, red raspberries should be set one to two inches deeper. Use firm soil over roots and water. You should cut back all plants to about six inches in height. It is advised not to let any fruit set for the first year and allow new shoots to make rows six to eight inches wide.

Following fruiting every year you should cut out old cane and burn, leaving a few strong new ones to grow for fruiting the following year.

These fruiting canes should be cut back to about 2 1/2’ early in the spring to encourage fruiting laterals. We advise mulching. Just before the buds open in spring, spray raspberries and blackberries with lime sulphur or Bordeaux Mixture.

Blueberries are different. They require an acid soil containing an abundance of organic material. Blueberries require a healthy supply of soil moisture with proper drainage. Standard practice is to mulch plants rather than cultivate them. This is because the plants are shallow rooted and will not tolerate close working.

High quality blueberry soil can be made by use of quantities of compost or other organic material. Work the organic material into the surface of the soil. Use aluminum sulphate to bring the pH level down to an optimum 5 to 6 range. Since blueberries need pollination we recommend you plant no less than two varieties.

Q: How should I take care of my grapes?

A: The planting of grapes is advised for the spring or fall. As early in spring as the ground can be worked you can begin planting.

The Usual spacing is eight by eight feet. However, if space is limited a seven-foot spacing will do. Proper holes should be dug 12 to 14 inches deep and 16 inches in diameter. To prevent drying the roots, leave a slight depression around the stalk to hold rainwater.

Q: How should I take care of my strawberries?

A: There are two ways to plant strawberries. The first, a hill System, is to plant 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Keep all runners nipped off. The second is a matted row. The matted row is planting in rows 4 to 5 feet apart, plants set 24 inches apart in row. You should allow runners to fill to 24 inches wide.

We advise plowing or spading land deeply before planting. Where the plant is to be used, you should plant by pushing spade into ground to its full depth in spot. Press it to one side, insert roots and spread them out in fan shape and hanging down to their full length. Set plants with crown after surface or a little below it.

Q: How should I take care of my broad-leaved evergreens, azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, et. cetera?

A: You should utilize acid soil, close to pH 5, either maintained or created artificially. You should use a moist situation with excellent drainage. Also, use a light soil with high proportion of humus. Since these plants are shallow rooted, plant them high, maintain at least a 3” mulch around them and never cultivate. You might find it helpful to spray the foliage with a plastic spray if winter protection is needed.