The transplanting process marks a very critical phase in a plant’s life, and proper transplanting technique is vital in insuring healthy, vigorous growth and, in fact the very survival of the plant. Adherence to the following practices will greatly improve your plant’s chances of healthy growth.
Planting holes should ideally be dug in advance. Dig the hole at least one-third larger than the root ball. If the soil is poor, dig holes two or three times larger than the ball and backfill with rich top soil.
Plants should be planted in their permanent location immediately upon receipt. Most varieties should be planted so that the top of the ball is at ground level or slightly above. Do not remove the burlap nor the wire basket – it will rot away quickly – but do remove the strings from around the stem of the plant and fold back the burlap from the top of the ball after it is in the hole. Carefully pack the soil around the plant, tamping it to remove air pockets. Mulch well with a good mulch to help retain moisture.
Newly planted trees which have heavy tops or which are over six feet tall should be staked to prevent winds from swaying them and loosening the roots.
Remove any nursery labels or tags to prevent them from strangling the plant as it grows.
All plants should be soaked thoroughly at the time of planting and once a week thereafter during the first growing season. Push a trowel or bar into the soil to see if the root zone is being amply watered. If you can discern wilting it is too late; keep the plant watered.
Balled and burlaped plants have lost at least one-third of their root systems in the digging process. Re-establishing the balance between roots and foliage by pruning is often vital to the survival of the plant after transplanting.
Deciduous shrubs should be cut to one-half or one-third their original size. The lateral branches of deciduous trees should be cut by half; do not trim the central leader. This may appear to be rather severe treatment, but it will result in more rapid and vigorous growth after transplanting.
Evergreens usually need only light pruning and shaping after transplanting. Do not cut them back as severely as you would deciduous material.
Do not apply commercial fertilizers at planting time. The first application should be made the following February and at yearly intervals thereafter. Two to four pounds of 10-6-4 fertilizer per 100 square feet of surface is a standard rate of application.