Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on May 22, 2019 by jo

A DEEP Subject!

A deep subject?  NO, I am not going to expound about the meaning of life.  I am going to discuss the topic of planting depth.  A friend of mine was helping me plant a small tree recently and he took a little too much soil out of the hole.  As we were discussing whether to keep raising up the tree, he recited a little verse. "Plant it low, it won't grow.  Plant it high, it won't die!" Mmmm....that's an easy way to remember a gardening rule-of-thumb.  Another little saying about planting dictates to "Never plant a $10 plant in a 10 cent hole".  I should update that to "Never plant a $100 plant in a $10 hole" to account for inflation.  Anyway, I'm going to tell you exactly how big that hole needs to be so that you can be successful in your tree-planting endeavors.

When you purchase a new tree or shrub, it is probably already growing in some sort of container or it is a balled (NOT bald) and burlapped plant.  Either way, its planting depth has already been established.  It needs to be set in the new hole at the EXACT same depth as it was in the container or to the top of the root ball.  Measure that depth and start digging!  Don't dig deeper than necessary because you will disturb the base where the plant will sit and it might settle, thus ending up too deep! But you CAN and SHOULD dig the hole wider...this is a good thing.  That way the plant will have loose, slightly amended soil to begin sending roots into.  Now why do I say "slightly" amended?  Because if you replace the soil entirely, you risk creating the dreaded "bath tub effect". The bath tub effect occurs when the water in the surrounding soil moves into the newer, richer soil and drowns the plant.  This is a big problem in heavy, clay soils.  Better to just break up that soil well, add a little compost and put the same stuff back into the hole.

I have a new saying.  Maybe it will be passed down for generations to come.  Or not.  "Don't plant it too deep, dummy".

Off to plant a new tree to hug, at EXACTLY the right depth - Jodie




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