Transplanting Trees and Pumpkin Tips
By John Fulton
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[September 17, 2016]
Transplanting Trees - Today Iíll
attempt to give you a brief outline of transplanting trees. The best
time is during dormancy, meaning deciduous trees have lost their
leaves. Or, get as close to the dormancy period as you can.
Evergreens are never really dormant, so early spring or fall (by the
end of October to allow for root growth) are the best times as well
for them. Of course, fall close-out sales Ė and a 12 month guarantee
help with taking a little gamble on transplanting. Of course,
container grown trees can also be kept in the container until
The first step is to make sure the tree you have selected is
adapted to the site you are wanting to plant in. Drainage, soil
type, sun, and space are prime considerations. If you have a
sump pump that discharges in a particular area, you donít want a
tree there that doesnít like wet conditions. Also, make sure you
have adequate room for the mature size of the tree you are
planting. One of the most common landscaping mistakes is not
allowing enough space. This includes height, since power lines
and trees donít get along well together.
There are several different ways trees are sold. They can be
bare root, potted in the field, container grown, balled and
burlapped, or tree spade dug. Each method has strengths and
weaknesses, and a lot of the reason a tree is sold a particular
way is due to size. There are some general steps that do apply
to all types of trees.
First, you dig a hole. The hole should be at least a foot wider
than the size of the root system or container size, with many
recommending a hole twice the size of the container. Of course,
the direct tree spade planted trees wonít have this step. Rough
up the sides of the hole as with a shovel, and make sure the top
of the hole is at least as wide as the bottom. Donít dig the
hole too deep, as filling the hole will then lead to planting
too deep due to settling. Many balled and burlap trees are
actually set with about a third of the ball above ground level
after planting. Soil amendments are OK in small quantities,
especially in heavy clay or sandy soils. Organic material and
good topsoil are the best amendments. Peat moss can cause
problems in clay soils, since it can attract water and make a
wet hole for your tree.
Most trees done by homeowners are container grown. To plant
these types of trees, you first remove the container at the
planting site. If the roots are growing all around the container
soil, loosen the roots by rubbing or make a few vertical cuts on
the sides to cut the mass of roots and make two cuts on the
bottom that form an ďx.Ē Plant at least two inches higher than
the soil level to allow for settling.
Other types of trees have some slight variations at planting
time, with bare root being the most different. Bare root
plantings need to have air pockets tamped to begin with, the
roots straightened and spread in the hole, then the tree needs
to be gently raised and lowered as soil is added to work out air
After-planting care is very important. Usually five to seven
gallons of water is needed each week. Do it once a week. Mulch
with a three to six inch layer of mulch such as wood chips, and
go out from the trunk for three to six feet. Keep the mulch away
from direct contact with the trunk, and donít use plastic under
the mulch as it can suffocate roots and hold in too much water.
A little fertilizer is OK. Too much, especially in the fall, is
bad. Lawn fertility rates are fine, and phosphorus and potassium
can be added at any time.
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Like many things, the pumpkins seem to be ready a bit early this
year. Stores have them prominently displayed for fall
decoration, and having harvested a few at home this past week,
itís probably time for the annual pumpkin tips. If you are
growing your own, make sure you watch your pumpkins and squash
as you harvest them. Here are some rules for selecting pumpkins:
- Choose a pumpkin with a stem and never carry it by the stem.
Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.
- Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand
- Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas
- Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin
is not as hard as darker orange colored ones, but they will not
keep as well.
- Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before
carving. Use of a small amount of dishwashing soap in the warm
water may help extend the life of the pumpkin.
- To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place
until ready to carve. After carving, coat the cuts with
- Carving should only be done three days ahead of Halloween.
After cutting, the pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.
- The use of a candle in the pumpkin will also make it
[By JOHN FULTON, COUNTY EXTENSION
DIRECTOR SERVING LOGAN, MENARD, AND SANGAMON COUNTIES]