Was this tree planted correctly/will it be ok?

eknitApril 6, 2014

I just purchased a weeping cherry blossom tree. My husband helped me plant it, but he was in a hurry and I'm a little worried about the way it was planted.

We dug a nice big hole and really broke up the soil. And then we filled it back up until it was about as deep as the pot the tree was in. We also made sure to dig it around twice the width of the pot.

What has me worried is that he just plopped the tree in the ground and then began filling the soil in around it and packing it down with his boots. I asked if we needed to break apart the roots a little before planting but he disagreed. Also the instructions said to fill then "tamp" the soil. So that is why he packed it down a lot. By my interpretation was to fill it all in first, then pack it down a little...not to keep packing it every few inches as it was filled.

Can anyone clarify for me if this was done correctly? I'm not an expert gardener, but all my plants have usually done really well, and one of the things I've always followed was to break apart the roots before planting. I just don't know if the same applies for trees.

Can I leave the tree as is? Or do I need to re-plant it?

And on a side note. I noticed that the tag on the tree says this variety grows 12' tall and 20' wide. None of the pictures I've seen show the tree this wide. And I just can't imagine it becoming that wide. I kind of hope it doesn't. Does anyone have any experience with the growth of these trees? It is a snow fountains weeping cherry.

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First, it is not a great idea to dig a planting hole any deeper than the rootball of the plant you intend to plant. Digging deeper and then refilling to the proper depth actually fluffs up and loosens the soil which will eventually settle. When it settles, the tree/shrub can sink too deeply into the ground. And trees or shrubs planted too deeply are always at risk. Dig the planting hole 2-3 times wider than the rootball but no deeper....in fact, even a bit shallower than the depth of the rootball is preferred.

Whether or not one disturbs the root system on trees before planting is a bit dependent on how big it is and how the plant was grown. "Breaking apart" is maybe too harsh a practice - roughing up the exterior roots may be all that's necessary but again, it does depend on the presentation: how it was grown, how rootbound the tree may be and if any girdling roots are obvious.

And tamping down firmly is definitely recommended, both to remove any air pockets and to firm the root system in place.

All in all, I'd leave the tree as is but I would watch closely for any settling. If you see that happening, you will want to lift the tree, firm that under-root ball soil base and replant at the proper level.

Mature size tags should be taken with a grain of salt. They are usually averages and are often non-specific about location, conditions or even specific cultivar. 10-12' tall and 8-10' wide is pretty typical for this selection.

The following instructions for tree and shrub planting should be helpful for future reference:

Here is a link that might be useful: planting guide

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 6:10PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)


I did not see where you watered the tree during planting?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Thanks for your replies. While waiting for a reply, I did some research online and found most places suggested teasing out the roots. So I decided to dig back up and replant the tree. I went back and loosened up the roots so that they were coaxed outward a little. When it was originally put in they were flattened to the soil it was potted in and I was really worried they'd continue to grow in a circle and become root bound.

I made sure to tamp down the soil as I filled again. I'm not too worried about the depth, as when I planted was thinking the root ball might be just slightly above ground level. So if it does settle at all I think it will be ok. But I will definitely keep an eye on it.

I did give it a good watering once I replanted it. I was a little unsure about how much to give it. I just waterted until there was a slight puddle around the base of the tree that could soak in. Is that enough? Also it says to add a thick layer of mulch, so I need to pick some up.

One other question I thought of. Unfortunately the bed of my truck nicked the trunk of the tree on the ride home and made a little gash in it. Do I need to do anything at the site of the cut to prevent any further injury to the tree?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:58AM
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I think you did the right thing by replanting it and spreading the roots out. As for tamping the soil, the only time the soil should be compressed is when the hole is dug deeper than the rootball. Soil is added to the bottom of the hole and compressed with a foot/tamper until the tree's root flare is just above grade. Soil added around the potted soil should not be severely compressed but the tree should be able to cope with some compaction.

As far as your gash, I wouldn't necessarily do anything without a picture but you HAVE TO watch out for suckers now. When trees are injured, they usually sucker in response and whatever suckers from the bottom of your tree IS NOT the weeping ornamental part you paid $$$ for. Promptly remove them by rubbing them with your finger or pruning them with hand pruners if they become too woody to rub off.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 10:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

watering trees.. require drainage ...

they like a deep drink.. thru the entire root zone planted.. and then near drying in between ... thats the drainage part ...

this can not be accomplished by lawn sprinklers...

and involves heavy use of your finger.. inserted to about 3 inches.. to check ...

since its early spring.. if well watered at planting.. it might not need more water for a month..

but once the temps start rising... check them at least once a week ... and WATER WHEN NEEDED... and no one can tell you when that is.. its not a schedule thing ...

refer to the planting guide above.. for info on proper watering ...

good luck


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 10:09AM
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