Bareroot Tree Planting and Care



When you receive your tree

    In order to comply with phytosanitary restrictions, trees growing in soil must have all the soil mix washed carefully off the tree roots, which are then packed them in damp sphagnum moss for shipment.  Barerooting is stressful to trees, so they must be well cared for when received.  

    You should have pots and a soil mix ready to pot them as soon as possible.  A good soil mix will have a pH of 5.5-6.5 and be well drained (40-50% perlite or coarse river sand).  Some plants may like a more acid pH, which can be achieved by adding more peat moss to the mix (peat moss has a pH of 3.5-4).

    Pot trees carefully, spreading the roots as naturally as possible, and gently tamping soil mix around them.  Water thoroughly, then keep the mix evenly moist, but never waterlogged.  It is a good idea to put the trees under a mist system or enclose them with plastic bags (make tiny holes in the bag so they can breathe).  Also, removing 50-85% of the leaves helps to prevent them from drying out until the roots get established and are providing all the water the plant needs.  Keep new trees shaded for 2-3 weeks, then gradually give them more light until they are receiving the proper amount for that species.

Plant Care

    Once established, water trees thoroughly when the soil mix feels dry.  You can tell when the mix is dry by sticking your finger in the pot, or by lifting the pot to see if it is heavy (still wet) or light (dry).  Most trees will suffer if allowed to dry to the point of wilting.  

    Once the plant begins active growth, it can be fertilized every 3-4 months.  Fertilizers may be water soluble, granular, slow release or organic, but should be used in moderation.  Excess fertilizer will kill a tree!  Repot or plant outside (in a warm climate) when the roots fill the pot.

Author: Bryan Brunner
Botanical garden and online nursery specializing in exotic tropical fruits, heliconias and gingers, palms, bromeliads and other rare tropicals.
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