Gardening Year, How To, Liam, Planting, Plants, Trees

How to plant bare root tree

Planting a tree is a decision made with many, many years in mind. With that being said it is essential to give your young tree the best possible start so it can grow to its full potential. With this guide we will show you you how to plant a bare root tree, which, like most plants, requires some initial TLC.

 

Bare root trees are uprooted and sent out around November to March, while the tree is dormant. Therefore it is around this time you’ll be planting them, however, avoid days when the soil is frozen or waterlogged.  

On receiving your bare root tree you will want to plant immediately. If this is not possible then it is essential to check the roots to see whether or not they have dried out. If they have then dunk in a bucket of water for 5 minutes and then return it to the plastic packaging, making sure it retains its moisture.

Giving the Roots a Soak Before Planting

The tree’s nutrients are critical to the survival of the tree and its ability to establish itself are stored in the roots. When the roots dry out the tree will suffer severe damage and may even die. For this reason it is a good idea to soak the roots in a bucket for up to 30 minutes before planting. Equally the tree needs to breath and so leaving it in the bucket for much longer will suffocate it.

When picking a site for your tree, ideally you will want somewhere which is going to receive full sunlight and will be sheltered from harsh, drying winds. Make sure you pick a spot where the roots will have a chance to grow and spread out. If training against a wall then leave at least 1ft of space from the base of the plant.

Dig a hole with a diameter roughly 3x the size of the roots and with the same depth. If planted too deep, the lower trunk of the tree may become susceptible to disease. The graft-point of the tree should be above the soil. 

A square hole allows for the greatest root penetration and growth. Loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork and also the sides if they appear compact.

The Correct Size and Depth of the Hole Relative to the Roots

You can plant a stake by the side of the rootball to give the tree some additional support if required. For a bare root tree we only recommend using one stake as their roots are more spread out. If planted in a sheltered site it may not be required and we advise not using a stake to improve the tree’s strength and flexibility. See our guide to staking a tree.

Take the soil you have dug and mix in compost so that it is three parts original soil, one part compost. You can add some further compost to the bottom of the hole and then fill in with your soil. There is no need at this point to apply a fertiliser, you can however sprinkle around the roots with mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) to stimulate root-growth.

The Hole Filled in with Stake in Place

Place your tree in the hole and then fill in with your soil. Every now and then gently heel in so that the soil is touching the roots. Air circulation is essential so don’t compact the soil too much.

After this form a bowl with the soil around the tree and fill with water. This will ensure the water doesn’t spill off and go directly to the roots. In the first few years it is important to look after and regularly water your young tree, especially through periods of extended heat. Once the roots have grown out and the tree has established itself it will require less maintenance.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Gardening, How To, Liam, Planting, Trees

Staking tree

Staking a young tree helps provide it with that much needed support before the roots have had the chance to fully grow out and establish themselves. Staking a bare root and a containerised tree has slight differences in the method; with this guide we’ll explain how to stake both.

With that being said trees need a certain room to move if they are to develop a strong trunk and roots which provide a healthy, natural anchorage. For this reason it is important to give the tree some space to move and to remove the stakes after one growing season. Failure to do this could result in the tree snapping under pressure as it matures. If you are planting the tree in a sheltered site, you may not need to stake your tree at all.

How to stake a bare root tree

First, for bare root trees you’ll want to place the stake into your hole before you have planted the tree. This will prevent any damage to the roots. As bare root trees generally have more spreading roots they will be able to support themselves more and so we recommend only using one stake.

Stake in place for a bare root tree

Your stake should reach roughly to just below the branches, this will prevent any of the branches scraping up or snapping against the stake. You can saw the stake down to the required height after you have planted the tree.

Use a broad, smooth cord to tie your branch to the stake so not to cut or scrape away at the trunk. We recommend tying the cord in a figure of 8 to keep the tree secure but also to give it room. The ties shouldn’t be much higher than 2/3s up the trunk.

Recommended figure-of-eight tie

How to stake a container grown tree

With a containerised tree the roots are generally less spread out as they have been restricted to a pot; for this reason we recommend using two stakes instead of one.

Plant the tree first and then plant the stakes as to not disturb and break the soil around rootball. Remember how large the rootball is as it is important not to drive the stake through it as this will damage the developing root system and with some tree varieties it will lead to death.

Stakes in place around a containerised tree

Tie the steaks to your tree, in a figure of eight and the tree should now be well supported as it establishes itself. Remove the stakes after one growing season to promote more natural strength and flexibility.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Gardening, How To, Liam, Planting, Trees

Planting a tree is a decision made with many, many years in mind. With that being said it is essential to give your young tree the best possible start so it can grow to its full potential. With this guide we will show you how to plant a containerised tree.

 

A benefit you get with a containerised plant over a bare root one is that you can plant it at any point in the year. As long as your soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged your plant should be able to establish itself regardless of the season.

1. Before taking the tree out of its pot give it a good water. If you are planting the tree during spring or summer then it is essential to make sure it is well watered as the tree is yet to establish itself fully.

2. When picking a site for your tree, ideally you will want somewhere which is going to receive full sunlight and will be sheltered from harsh, drying winds. Make sure you pick a spot where the roots will have a chance to grow and spread out. If training against a wall then leave at least 1ft of space from the base of the plant.

3. Dig a hole with a diameter roughly 3x the size of the root ball and with the same depth. If planted too deep the lower trunk of the tree may become susceptible to disease; the graft-point should be just above the ground.

A square hole allows for the greatest root penetration and growth, especially for containerised plants whose roots are used to growing around in a circle. Loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork and also the sides if they appear compact.

4. Take the soil you have dug and mix in compost so that it is three parts original soil, one part compost. You can add some further compost to the bottom of the hole and then fill in with your soil. There is no need at this point to apply a fertiliser, you can however sprinkle around the roots with mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) to stimulate root-growth.

5. Place your tree in the hole and the fill in with your soil. Every now and then gentle heel in so that the soil is touching the roots. Air circulation is essential so don’t compact the soil too much.

6. You can plant a stake by the side of the rootball to give the tree some additional support if required. For a containerised tree we recommend two stakes as they require additional support. If planted in a sheltered site it may not be required and we advise not using a stake to improve the tree’s strength and flexibility. See our guide to staking trees.

7. After this you can form a bowl with the soil around the tree and fill with water. This will ensure the water doesn’t spill off and go directly to the roots. In the first several years it is important to look after and regularly water your young tree especially through periods of extended heat. Once the roots have grown out and the tree has established itself it will require less maintenance.

With this you have done your part in ensuring a long and happy life for your tree. You can also apply a mulch around the base to help it retain moisture, protect the roots and fend off weeds and disease.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

How To, Liam, Planting, Plants

Pruning is essential to a productive and healthy fruit bush. For that reason we have created this step-by-step guide on how to prune a fruit bush which looks at those with a bushy and sucker/cane growing habit.

Pruning a Bushy… Bush

Fruit bushes witha bushy growing habit are all those species with branches spreading from one main trunk usually close to the ground level. These include most varieties such as blueberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants etc.

Bushy fruit bushes produce the most fruit on 2-3 year old branches and lose their vigour after that third year. Pruning therefore is the art of facilitating a constant cycle of rejuvenation keeping the plant young, healthy and heavy with fruit.

  • Pruning should be carried out in the winter while the bush is still dormant. I would advise waiting until early spring as the buds begin to develop. This will give you a clearer indication of which branches are worth keeping. Fruit buds will be more round and fat than their thinner vegetative counterparts.
  • In the first two years pruning is a light exercise, simply ridding the plant of anything dead, dying or diseased – the three D’s. As always when dealing with anything diseased you need to sterilise your pruning equipment and burn any of the affected branches or leaves after they have been pruned out to prevent the spread of contamination.
Pruning A Bush Diagram
Before and After Pruning a Bush: The Desired Shape
  • As the bush has established itself pruning becomes a practice of training and increasing productivity. After removing the three d’s you want to maintain a good evenly spaced shape with the branches growing as horizontally as possible as these will be the branches capable of supplying the most fruit.
  •  As the bush grows older pruning should include cutting out any of the older more woody branches.
  • With this done you leave only the younger, more vigorous branches which crop the heaviest. This is better for fruit production and will help prevent the bush exhausting itself and falling into a biennial harvest.
  • Now you will want to prune out any crossing branches or areas of congestion. You need to open the bush up to sunlight and good airflow as to prevent the spread of pests and disease.  Suckers and low-hanging branches are more of an issue with a fruit bush.
  • If it appears as if the fruit will be resting on the floor cut out that branch. This helps prevent disease and pests from destroying your crop.

Pruning a Sucker Bush

Some bushes, mainly Raspberries and Blackberries, grow in a sucker fashion meaning that they grow new stems from the base of the plant year on year as opposed to having a truck or main branch. Both also only grow fruit on one year old canes and so it is essential to annually prune these bushes maintaining this cycle of rejuvenation.

Again this process should be carried out in late winter or early spring. More recently horticulturalists have realised that the old canes send carbohydrates back to the roots which can boost the plant’s vitality and therefore it may be worth waiting until spring time before you prune them out.

A Blackberry Bush After Its Winter Pruning
  • First of all tend to the 3 D’s.
  • Every year you need to monitor and remove those canes which have produced fruit during the harvest season. You can cut these out right at the base but leave a little length so the cut does not become contaminated from the soil and pests.
  • Lastly remove any weak or spindly looking branches. These won’t be able to bear much fruit and will simply limit air-flow and sunlight reaching the more productive canes.
  • You can now tie in these main canes to their support and expect a bumper crop as summer comes around!

Hopefully with this guide we have given you all the information on how to prune a fruit bush. As always check the specific requirement for your plant to ensure a healthy life and a bumper crop!

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