Things I think increase chances for dormancy break and thriving from a bareroot:
- Get it into the ground ASAP. Heal in otherwise, if delayed.
I think this is the most important IMHO. So much can go wrong with the
roots drying otherwise leading to death or runting. Pre-dig holes
before the trees show up—downside is more soil life dies off but saves
time if a lot of trees arrive.
- Possibly pre-bare root treatment.
I don’t know how much of this is really needed. Soak the tree in
dechlorinated or rainwater for at least two hours. Can soak for days as
trees absorb oxygen from water like fish, and being dormant they don’t
consume as much oxygen so don’t worry about too long a soak, but I would
not exceed 24 hours.
I add 1/4 cup of Superthrive to the water. I use a 42 gallon plastic
garbage can filled up to or over the root flare (uppermost root) of all
trees. The trees go from box to soak as soon as I pull them from the
box. Truthfully the Superthrive may work more (if at all) by
interacting with any residual chlorine than stimulating dormancy break.
The poms will be in sleeves.
- Proper planting.
Site selection: Sun, microclimate (chill hours), wind protection.
Right tree, right place: good rootstock for area, no overhead lines or underground pipes, not too close to structures.
Hole soil broken up 3-5X root diameter.
Hole 10" deep pre-dug (fortuitously a shovel blade length).
Square hole to lessen circling chances. Rough up the sides of the hole.
Test for drainage by filling twice with water and timing drainage time on second fill.
<45 min. too fast drainage-evaluate & adjust (usually a gopher hole blowout).
24 hours not good. >48 hours must plant on a mound or raised bed.
In between 45 min and 24 hours perfect.
When planting adjust depth to set tree in so it is at its root
flare in depth. Use shovel handle across hole to determine. Can use a
smaller water containing garbage can next to hole to hold a single tree
for measurements and manipulations before final planting.
Plant tree with face of the graft union pointing towards North to
East to prevent sunburn on face. Different areas will recommend
different based on local experience for either sun or wind resistance.
Prune any broken roots to above a root node if visible, otherwise about a half inch up from the break or rot.
I do not supplement the soil unless I do not have as much soil to
refill the hole (I have a dense 6-8"deep Bermuda grass cap that often
forces me to discard it). I supplement missing soil with a finished
compost mixed absolutely thoroughly so water infiltration won’t be an
issue. The soil will have all of a tree needs already, or the tree is
in trouble when it grows out of the hole. The tree should grow out past
the hole after a year so whatever you toss into the hole should have no
positive effect on the tree. Potential negative effects: roots don’t
want to leave paradise, mycorrhiza establishment rejected because tree
doesn’t need it in a rich hole.
When refilling hole I do not tamp down the soil as heavily as most
seem to do. I spent time loosening soil, why would I compress it
again? So I let water collapse any air pockets when I water the hole
and add more soil to make up for collapses. I keep an eye on the soil
the next couple of days for settling.
Water the next two days. About 5 gallons per hole. Then don’t water again until dormancy breaks
unless it is a really dry long winter (don’t let soil moisture dry out
ever!-likely not an issue in Atlanta) or very sandy soil. Mounds or
raised beds will also dry quicker.
Water as soon as you see bud swell.
Then go on a young tree or first year tree watering schedule for your area.
Don’t fertilize first year.
Paint the trunks on single trunk trees.
Choice: Prune branches to form (open, central leader, mod.
central leader), top off at knee height to reset branch formation, or
combination of the two depending on trunk caliper 6" above graft union.
I never stake. I don’t want wimpy trunks. My area gets 50-70mph
microbursts…don’t want to hear about how “you have to stake” unless
you have really sandy soil present. Staking makes sense for helping
form an espalier.
Mulch deep with landscaper wood chips. Keep them a few inches
away from the trunk (to prevent rots) out to 4 feet. At least 4" deep
to as deep as you want. Do not let grass grow within 18" of the trunk;
grass inhibits tree growth badly that close.
Note: Plant multi-grafted trees with less vigorous limb oriented
towards South or West, most vigorous towards North or East (latter most
important). Vigorous = largest caliper Be very careful pruning the
branches—a lot of people prune off the scions (cultivars).
Essentially you don’t prune multigrafts out of the box.