By Brent Gray
This is the time of year when nurseries, garden centers, and discount stores are stocking bare-root trees and roses. The plants survive this treatment because they are dormant. But if left too long in warm temperatures, they will begin to sprout. Only buy plants that are still dormant or those that the nursery has planted in pots. Before planting bare-root nursery stock, soak the roots in water overnight. If you’re not ready to plant, cover the root system with moist soil or compost, and store in a shady location. When ready to plant, set trees and own-rooted roses in the hole only as deep as they were growing in the field or container (look for soil stains on the trunk). Grafted roses should be set so that the graft union is about an inch above the soil line.
Selecting And Planting Trees
When purchasing trees, select specimens with straight unscarred trunks, tight, smooth unblemished bark, and a dominant shoot or leader. Always plant trees at the correct depth in a well-prepared hole. Dig the planting hole three to five times the diameter of the soil ball (for container plants) but no deeper than its height.
Now is the time to prune dormant, deciduous, and evergreen shade trees. Remember never to remove the central leader of a shade tree or you will ruin its natural shape. Spring-flowering trees like flowering cherry, flowering peach, dogwood and redbud should only be pruned now to remove crossed branches, damaged or diseased wood and unwanted growth; otherwise, unneeded pruning of these trees will remove the already formed flower buds decreasing the floral display this spring.