Although container trees and shrubs can be planted year round, spring is one of the very best times to plant. The cool weather allows root systems to become established while top growth is just starting. This is also a great time to plant roses, berries, ground covers and perennial flowers. We can also plant summer flowering bulbs such as lilies, ranunculus, gladiolus, and anemones. These bulbs will all withstand light frosts. Wait until April to plant dahlias and begonias. Their new growth is frost tender.Lawns can be planted from sod almost any time the soil is not frozen. Wait until April to plant lawns from seed.

Check plant roots after removing from the container. If there are several layers of roots, loosen bottom roots and make several vertical cuts with a knife around the sides of the root ball. With 4 inch or smaller pots, loosening bottom roots is sufficient. This encourages new roots to grow downward and outward instead of continuing to grow round and round. After placing the plant in the hole, burlap covered root balls should have all twine and nails removed, and burlap should be folded down into the hole before backfilling. Twine wrapped around the trunk can girdle bark and kill the plant. Be careful to place trees and shrubs a little higher than the surrounding soil and then mound the soil up to slightly cover the root ball. If the plant sinks after watering, lift it so it is back at its previous level. More plants are stunted or killed by planting too deep than any other reason.


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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