Plant and Forget Trees for Costal New England.

edlincoln(6A)March 8, 2013

I've taken to planting something whenever I visit my parents, to give me something to do. They recently lost a lot of trees to a combinations of beetles and storms, so there is plenty of room.

The problem is, I then leave, so I can't give these things proper aftercare.

This strategy has actually worked with holly, but not pines.

What trees have a decent chance of surviving if you plant them and then ignore them? I understand this strategy will inevitably lead to some casualties...but if I buy seedlings cheap I can afford to have some die.

It is a coastal area with acidic soil that is a mixture of sand and clay, and with a lot of wind. Zone 6, coastal Massachusetts. The plants that seem to thrive there are Eastern Red Ceder, White Pine, and Holly. Native plants preferred. Trees with fruits or flowers would be nice.

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Been there. Done that as a pro. Question---What types of trees were lost to storms and beetles and were they reaching maturity at their demise? Those not beetle damaged should be considered as replacement trees first as they have survived the harsh conditions. With no after care your choices are limited although non-grafted very young saplings planted, mulched and left to struggle often survive. I have used Japanese maple varieties raised from seed planted out when about 10" tall introducing them to seacoast winds and storms with remarkable success.

Two suggestions:
1. Have your parents move around the property during wind storms seeking those 'quiet areas' where something is deflecting the wind such as a building, a stone wall or a change in topography. Those spots will be found, sometimes in surprising locations and are the best planting spots.

2. Consider planting cluster sections of windbreak plants such as holly, old fashioned purple lilacs which take wind well and Viburnum lentago which grows to about 20'. Plant trees to the leeward side of these as they mature.

Others to try: Amur maple ( Amur ginnala), white alder (Clethra barbinervis), crab apple varieties, Black pine (Pinus thunbergiana).

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Crape myrtles are perfect for neglecting, you dont have to prune, they dont need much water, and they have seasonal interest all year round

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:04PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

contact the soil conservation district office in the county of your parents house ...

they deal precisely with the plants you want to know about ...

and might even sell them at the proper planting season ...

also discuss such with that counties Extension and Ag offices ...

how trees are planted.. is just a important as aftercare ... and when someone lacks one.. the other becomes imperative ....

it surprises me .... that google can not give you a list of natives in MA ... nor can ID what beetle is wreaking havoc in MA ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: for example

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:07PM
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Second what Ken said.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Nandina: The trees that were killed off by beetles were older Black Pines. (Not sure if they were Pinus thunbergiana, there is apparently more then one specis with the common name Black Pine.) They were killed off by a local epidemic of turpentine beetles. (Or at least that is the leading theory.) A cautionary tale about the dangers of monoculture.

The Spruce and Eastern Red Ceder survived the epidemic. Some old but pretty healthy looking spruce were destroyed by some major storms we had in the area. (One storm propelled salt spray onto trees, another just knocked trees down.) The young white pines the neighbors planted do well, but I've had poor luck with the "plant and pray" strategy with pines.

I've been planting Holly as a privacy screen. White Alder and Viburnum lentago are some good suggestions.

I can get a list of natives online, but I can't get practical advice on what is a "plant and forget" possibility. (A lot of gardeners who like to spend a lot of time in their garden and micro-manage get offended at the very idea...)

How do I find the number for my conservation office?

This post was edited by edlincoln on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 16:44

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:41PM
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well here are some native fruit trees you could plant:
American Persimmon and Beach Plum

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 5:44PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I expect the real problem is the soil. In a not totally different climate, I rarely need to water anything after it goes in the ground. The big trick is to plant early, and develop a true hatred of unseasonably warm spells. Also, true water hogs go in the swamp. Aside from that, the clay considers it a personal affront to dry out

There may some obscure technical difference between plant and forget, and plant and go out and look at it, then walk away without doing anything.

If the wind is a big issue, there is the possibility of you erecting some sort of burlap windbreak when you are there, which is removed at some point in the future, when you are there, but doesn't do much in the meantime.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:06PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

google the name of their county.. add MA.. and add SOIL CONSERVATION ... see link.. change names

reforestation programs.. are COMPLETELY 'plant and forget' .. and they get a vast majority of their seedlings to survive... but the key is small plants ... they use a planting bar.. of which i dont recall the proper term ... its not all that complicated ...

there will not be many LARGE transplants.. that you stress to high heaven.. that you can walk away from for a year ... and that will be one of your keys to success ...

and amending the soil.. is NOT a good thing... as you most likely will end up adding things that REQUIRE maintenance ... plant in native soil.. no matter what it is ... and mulch PROPERLY ...

i think brandon gave you a link to his planting guide in some other post ... did he not????


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Ed, I was expecting your answer that Black pine. one of the few pines that grows well in your 'barrens', was killed by the Turpentine beetle. With no mention of other trees beyond spruce, white pine, holly and Eastern Red Cedar (which will actually grow with salt water tides covering roots twice a day) you are pretty much left in the 'trial and error' mode. As Ken says, plant them young and do not amend the soil.

Your soil type has been mentioned above. It is mainly an outwash plain of deposits left by the last melting glacier. A mixture of sands, clays and and sometimes a layer of peat moss from long ago bogs will be uncovered. The white clays found in your area are considered choice and were mined and shipped to England for fine porcelain dishware before the Am. Revolution.

Also, Beach plum (Prunus maritima) has been mentioned. As you know, it is not a tree. Planted along the beach it is a native low growing shrub used for erosion control. Seems to grow and fruit best in the wild when surrounded by a healthy stand of poison ivy. I swear, the two seem to have a symbyotic relationship. Inland it forms a pleasing 6' shrub suitable for the landscape. A very interesting plant within the Prunus family with a long horticultural history. Recently it has attracted the attention of some growers and also Cornell who are reintroducing it to the market.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:45PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

Here are some plants that should do well along the coast:

-Picea rubens - red spruce. This is a native and common New England Spruce (besides white & black spruce), growing mostly along the coast and in the mountains.

-Pinus rigida - Pitch pine. This is the native "pine barrens" pine, common in the pine barrens along the Atlantic coast.

-Amelanchier canadensis - Common serviceberry. This is another common coastal tree, very pretty and easy to grow.

There are many, many more options; You could read into your state's and neighboring state's websites, looking into the plant communities that would naturally occur.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 4:03PM
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You could also ask on the New England forum. There are several regulars there who live along the coast.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Thanks for the great suggestions! I like the ideas of Beach Plum, Red Spruce, common serviceberry, White Alder and Viburnum lentago.

Serviceberry and Beach Plum were suggestions I'd got elsewhere. I actually planted a Beach Plum on some embankments on the property last Fall, partly as erosion control. The catch with planting deciduous trees in the Fall is it is a long time until you know if they "took". I'm reassured by the fact you say they like poison ivy...there is a lot of poison ivy there. I think I'll try planting another one closer to the poison ivy patch. If you say ceder can survive salt water twice a day. I may try planting some right near the water...hopefully they will block wind and salt spray.

I'd never heard of Red Spruce or American Persimmon. I'll look into them.

I may take your suggestions to look at the New England Forum..didn't know it existed.

Some questions:
1.) When you say plant small trees, How small is small?
2.) Does anyone know what the planting bar is called?
3.) I'll be visiting Easter and Mother's Day. Which of these things would I plant March 30, which May 12?
4.) What was the link to Brandon's list that was referenced?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:40PM
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