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---Anne K Moore October 2009---
Photo by Anne K Moore

Not only is Fall a good time to get trees and shrubs into the ground, it is also a good time to plant cactus (in the southwest, according to the National Gardening Assoc.).Fall planting allows the roots of most perennials, shrubs, and trees to take hold before they have to supply food and water to newly springing leaves or flowers.

There is at least one exception to the rule.Palm trees come to mind.They should be planted in the heat of summer.

When you knock the plant out of the pot, check the roots. Use your fingers to rough up and tease the roots loose on the edges. If they are matted, winding around each other, or tangled, use a knife or serrated trowel to slice through the outer mass in two or three areas.

Do not plant the root ball too deep.This is the number one killer of plants, especially trees and shrubs.This GardenSMART Video, 2008, show12, shows just how to plant a tree so that it will put down a good root system.

The video also demonstrates staking to develop a strong trunk.Many trees do not need staking.The shorter the time trees remain staked, the stronger the trunk will be.They should never be staked longer than six months.

If you use granular chemical fertilizers, do not get any directly on the roots.At one time, it was thought that putting compost into the planting hole or mixing it into the back-fill was a good thing to do.We now know that this just keeps the roots circling in the good soil.

Trees and shrubs are lazy, just like many of us.Why should they go outside the easy eating spot to forage in less-than-ideal soil?To be healthy, the roots must spread.Use tough love; do not plant them in altered soil.It is OK, however, to amend the whole planting area for five or more feet out from the base of the plant.

Look for the flare of the trunk at its base.Keep this area above ground.Mulch to conserve moisture but keep the mulch pulled back from the trunk.Water the plants at least weekly if there isnít sufficient rainfall.Even drought tolerant plants must be kept watered until they establish themselves.

We can help sustain the planet by planting trees, shrubs, and flowers.All of these living things remove carbon dioxide from the air.Large trees, especially, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, one tree removes over a ton of CO2 in its lifetime.Help the Planet, plant something green.


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