These are rules for digging trees and other plants.
- Only dig trees or plants when they are dormant. Here in Ohio dormancy occurs usually right before Thanksgiving, after we’ve had at least on night with temps down around 28 degrees F. or lower.
- That’s when digging season begins, and for us it usually ends about the third week of April in the spring. Once the plants start to make leaves digging and transplanting season is over.
- You can not dig a plant that has leafed out or has actively growing leaves on it.
- The size of the root ball you dig is based on the caliper of the trunk, measured 6″ above ground. For every one inch of trunk caliper you should have at least 11″ or 12″ of root ball.
- Bare root trees like you see in the above photo can not be left out in the open like that for very long at all.
- The bare roots should never be allowed to freeze while exposed to the air. Of course they freeze in the ground, but that’s different and it does not harm them. But if they freeze while exposed to the air they will be killed.
- They can not dry out. Once dug they need to be heeled back in and watered as quickly as possible. Anything more than an hour is not good and less than that is even better.
What to do with them until potting?
All I do dig into the potting soil pile a bit, put the trees into the trench or opening that I’ve made, place them root ball to root ball, then I cover the roots with potting soil.
Once they are heeled in like this there is not a great deal of urgency to get them potted as long as the roots stay moist. Of course the sooner you pot them the sooner they get established into the new pot. But if they leave out while in this holding place that’s not an issue because any root damage was done when they were dug. Potting should not be a traumatic experience for them.
I also sometimes store plants under ground, especially if I am going to have them over the winter and it’s too cold to get them potted. This video shows my first underground bunker.
Interestingly enough when I built this bunker I drove back into the brush and bramble at the back of the nursery and said to myself, “This is perfect, this is far enough back that it won’t interfere with anything.”
Wrong, I had to fill it in or else it would be in the middle of my now parking area!
Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I will respond. Until then, by any and all means stay inspired!