Just received trees to plant, how long can I wait?

CoolhandLockeDecember 24, 2013

Hello all, first post and I'm sure it won't be the last lol...

Long story short, I purchased some trees from Arbor Day around mothers day, but had no idea they wouldn't actually ship until the winter. They were supposed to ship out in October, but never did so you can imagine the surprise I had when I opened the door this morning (in the middle of cooking) to find a bag of trees outside.

Trees were shipped bare root in a bag with gel, and the directions say to plant immediately or that if you can, that you can "heel" the trees in temporarily.

My question is how long can I leave them in the bag without killing them? Ideally I would like to be able to leave them alone until Friday or Saturday so I can get my ducks in a row, buy the mulch, etc.. and get them planted properly.

Also, our weather is beyond weird this year. Was in the 70s two days ago, flurrying at 50 today. Boatloads of rain on and off all month as well. Same for the ground was frozen solid two weeks ago, now it's a little soggy from the rain. Definitely not the ideal planting time from what I can tell

Any help would be appreciated in regards to how long I can keep them bagged or what I need to do to them while bagged, as we totally didn't expect to get 10 trees on Christmas eve, and I'm not sure exactly what to do with the little buggers besides plop them in the ground (following the instructions) and hope for the best.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Follow their directions for heeling them in.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 2:29PM
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The directions don't specify how long you can wait before heeling them in. Everything they sent basically said immediately plant, and if you can't immediately heel.

Earliest I can possibly do either is Thursday unfortunately.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 2:52PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Keep them cool while you are getting ready. You could leave them in an unheated garage, but don't bring them inside your heated house. I don't know what their heeling-in instructions were like, but all you really have to do is go buy a bag or two of Nature's Helper from Home Depot and quickly pot them up for temporary storage. You should be able to do this in just a minute or two per plant.

Arbor Day is known for this kind of thing. They almost always send very puny little sticks. It's almost funny (except it's not) that they would send trees right during the busy Christmas holidays without even a notice. Next time your want trees, there are far far far better options!

When you do get ready to plant your trees, please carefully review the link below. I think you'll find it covers most things that you'll need to consider. There are no pretty graphics, but the information should be beneficial.

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting a Tree or Shrub

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 3:12PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Once you buy the Nature's helper, it's only going to take about 15 minutes! You could also use potting soil if you have some laying around. The key is that you want to keep the roots moist (not wet) and let them breath, and you want to keep your trees cool (outside or in the garage).

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 3:15PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

brandon is dead on. Follow his advise and you should be as good as your going to get out of AD With that said, you need to understand they have exceptionally high failure rates (regardless of care), and are just plain the wrong plants as often as not. In short, be prepared for these near certainties.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you don't know what kinds they sent you might want to check the labels and look them up, see if you actually want them all on your place (or wherever they are going). This would also help you choose the best spots for them, both for what they need and for what you want.

Here we see Arbor Day saplings stuck in all kinds of unsuitable spots. The Right Plant, Right Place concept applies every time something is planted. If the place is not right for the plant it won't make it, or will produce a poor specimen; if the plant is not right for the place then it may become a nuisance and get cut down, thereby defeating the purpose of planting something in that spot.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 5:06PM
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We did the same thing and received our Arbor Day trees about 2 weeks ago. They were not large enough to be consider trees, medium size weeds would be a better description.

In the instructions received with the trees, it recommended that the trees be potted and maintained in pots for a year or so, before planting them in the yard. Or until they were of a size you would buy in a nursery.

Since it is recommended to not plant trees in any thing but the dirt from the hole they will be planted in, We went into the back of our lot and filled 10 - one gallon pots with dirt. We then planted one tree per pot. Like other plants waiting to be planted, their home for the next couple of years will be out front porch.

This has an advantage over putting them in the yard. We have a lot of wild life in our yard, deer rabbits, squirrels, and etc. Keeping the small trees on our porch will protect them from deer, rabbits, and other small animals and discourage the squirrels

We live east of Raleigh and rarely experience 0 temperatures, Rarely do we get snow and if we do it last not more than a day. Those in colder ares may need to grow them in a small tree house or a hot bed.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 5:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dig one hole... shove them in ... water them.. if your soil drains ....that is healing in ... need be nothing more fancy ....

if you can get to them in the next week.. plant better..

do not water them in the bag ..

in fact.. wash off the goo ... before you heal them in ..

this isnt rocket science.. mother earth will hold them.. all in a gob.. better than anything you can dream up.. even until spring..


i will read what others said tomorrow .... and compare ...


    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Using the same soil that came out of the hole is done when planting in the ground. You do not use natural soil for planting in pots, unless it is very sandy or otherwise more full of air spaces than usual. If the soil you used is not highly aerated very likely you need to dump the trees out and start over with a potting soil type mix, that has enough air space in it to work between pot walls - pot walls block aeration.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 10:25PM
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With the understanding that soil in pots freezes faster than soil in the ground, I would plant in ground if your soil is digable, and protect from critters as best you can. My advice may not be right for you or anyone else that has posted, but I have done this with whips and think they can get established better if they are otherwise healthy little sticks with good roots, which AD doesn't always give you though. Some supplemental watering is usually needed, this is just what I do here in my yard.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 11:38PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Ditto what Bboy said about not using native soil in pots X 2!!!!

Use pots, with the proper potting medium, to hold over trees for a short time until you have time to plant them. Use pots, with the proper potting medium, to hold trees until they grow a little if you are going to plant them in an area where you won't be able to take care of them on a normal basis or where they might get trampled (like in a public park). Otherwise, plant them out ASAP! Growing in pots is much harder on you AND on the plant in situations where you could just go ahead and plant them out in your yard.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You have until the winter buds open in spring to monkey with them without there being tender new roots present.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 2:18PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Pots give me all kinds of trouble but after the great metasequoia giveaway we did I held a half dozen or so in pots.

Seems the keys are:
-Use potting soil or mix or whatever that drains correctly and does not compact
-Shelter the pot itself from full sun even if the plant will take it. The roots will heat up which you can not fix even with constant watering.
-Shelter the pot from winter elements as well. The darned thing will freeze and thaw quick! I suspect the extra exposure makes a pot about two zones colder than my zone six FWIW.

Now I accomplish most of the protecting the pots by gathering them around near the trunk of one of my dogwoods in a sheltered spot. Other more drought tolerant species like my cacti and the pine I can keep under the overhang of the east side of my house.

Good luck either way. I have an Arbor Day tree or two in my yard. They are not the BEST source for material but last time I checked they were inexpensive and a charity to boot.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 6:38PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if a person orders from arbor day ... it explains.. to me.. their knowledge level...

its a great place to give a few bucks.. for which they send the worst stock.. at the worst times ...

professionals.. kill things in pots.. expecting.. in any winter.. a 25 to 45 % death rate ... [i made that up.. but any honest pot grower will admit such]

for a inexperienced person.. to try pots.. is not high on my recommended list..

shove them all in the ground.. w/o the goo .. even still rubber banded together ...

as i said.. ma nature will nurture them.. sooner and better.. than you will ever figure out how to grow trees in pots ...

they offer doctoral programs for growing trees in pots... ma nature is pre-school.. go with the easy program .. lol ..

one thing for sure.. they are not house plants.. and they will not survive for long.. in a bucket of water.. nor in a plastic bag ... [i think thats 3 things.. gotta go] .. lol ...


    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 7:26PM
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