When planting trees, shrubs, and perennials, doing it right the first time helps to ensure that they will come back from winter and avoid it needing to be replaced later down the line. Most Utah urban landscaping doesn’t have soil supporting long-term tree growth, and many trees struggle with the deep clay pack and the nutrient-deficient ground. Taking the time to do a bit extra when planting ensures that your plants are set up for success and can establish themselves and adapt to the seasons’ conditions.
Dig your hole twice as wide as the pot but only as deep as the tree is sitting in the pot.
Almost any ornamental or fruit trees you buy will be grafted trees, and that graft scar at the base has to remain above the soil. This graft scar is a weak point in the tree, and keeping it above ground and exposed will help to prevent moisture buildup inside the trunk, which creates an inviting environment for a host of pests.
Place your tree in the center of the hole and backfill with 1⁄2 of your native soil and 1⁄2 soil pep.
Soil pep does three things for your plants root system at planting: it creates airspace for roots to develop and thicken, holds moisture around the roots to make that airspace humid and allow for more root hairs to form, and is slightly coarse so that the roots callous themselves rooting out and are more likely to establish in the clay pack below without sloughing off root hairs or circling in the loosened soil. This partially composted cedar bark also breaks down slowly in the soil over about 5 years, adding some nutrients and texture to the bed over time and helping to maintain soil quality long-term.
Create a mulch ring around trees.
Where trees have that graft scar at their base, maintaining a mulch ring around the tree’s diameter is essential to keep sod, weed barrier, and anything else from holding moisture on that graft scar.
Water in with Root Stimulator.
This is the best thing you can do to help ease the transplant shock on your plant.
Getting picked up and jostled and having the roots exposed is hard on the plants, and most usually takes a week or so to start showing new growth and stop drooping during the heat of the day. Root stimulator is a high phosphorus feed low in nitrogen and potassium.
Nitrogen and potassium will burn in excess, and typical fertilizers often burn the tender roots of establishing plants because they aren’t mature enough to absorb high amounts. Phosphorus is non-burning in liquid form; the nutrient plants use for rooting, blooming, and branching.
Mix 1 cup of Root Stimulator concentrate with 5 gallons of water in a bucket. Pour over slowly at the very center of the base of the plant. Slowly means slower than slow, then more gradually than that; you want to ensure the solution is soaking directly down to the plant’s roots and not draining off into the rest of the bed or the sod.