Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs have various water needs depending on the plant, its age,
the soil, sun, wind, pollution, air temperatures and rainfall. An even and
thorough soaking after planting will ensure moisture penetration to all
To soak evenly and thoroughly to a 6”to 8” depth, let water run through a
hose around the base of the plant at a slow trickle. Usually about half an
hour for shrubs and an hour for trees is sufficient, depending on the soil
type. To check the soil moisture, sink a stick about six to eight inches into
the ground at the base of the plant, then remove it. If the stick comes out
clean the soil is still too dry, so continue watering around the root ball.
Watering should be done approximately every six or seven days. Keep in
mind that overwatering is just as harmful as underwatering. (Underwateringsprinkling
the soil lightly with the hose-will only wet the topmost layer of soil,
and will not allow roots to develop.) Pay attention to weather conditions.
Adjust accordingly the amount of water your plants get to ensure successful
establishment in your garden. Deep, infrequent watering is best.
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Some plants will suffer from a condition known as transplant shock, which
may occur due to a loss of roots when the plant is dug out of the nursery and
moved to your garden. Adequate care may not eliminate transplant shock,
but it will help to decrease the symptoms and aid in the plants’ recovery.
Some symptoms to watch for: loss or sparse distribution of leaves, smaller
than normal leaf size, a lack or shortened period of flowering, faded leaf
color, twig dieback and overall reduced growth. Severity of plant shock will
depend on the time of year the plant is moved to your garden and the
plant’s type, size or age. In any case, transplant shock symptoms should
disappear as the plant adjusts to its new surroundings. Back to top >>
Pruning enhances the natural shape of your trees and shrubs by evening out
any areas that have grown faster than others. Other reasons to prune are to
remove dead or damaged wood, or to train the plant to a desired shape. Detailed
pruning to achieve a specific shape, or on a very large specimen, may
require the help of a professional arborist. Below are some basic guidelines
for maintenance pruning that you may perform yourself.
- When possible, remove branches where they meet the trunk. Pruning
- Newly planted trees and shrubs should be cut back by one third.
This will compensate for the root loss and enhance the establishment
and growth of the plants. If your landscape was planted by
Hinsdale Nurseries, this will already have been done for you.
- Prune spring-flowering plants, such as forsythias, lilacs, crabapples
and viburnums, just after flowering. Most bloom on old wood, or the
previous year’s growth.
- Prune out any dead wood. A dead stem will appear brown when
scratched with knife or fingernail. If it is green, the stem is still alive.
- Remove branches that cross or rub together-these branches may
lead to damage of one or both branches. Remove the least desirable
branch. Some species (i.e. Amelanchier) are prone to having numerous
main branches crossing each other. Be careful not to prune out
too many branches and harm the plant. Guideline–no more than
one third per year.
Trees, like other plants, require the essential elements in fertilizer for
growth. Fertilizer can improve soil, increase plant vigor, induce greener
leaves and even strengthen a plant’s resistance to certain insects and
diseases. Too much fertilizer, however, can be damaging.
Stock planted by Hinsdale Nurseries will have been fertilized at the time of
planting. We use a slow-release formula that should see your plants through
their first year. Should you wish to fertilize after this time, the following tips
will help you select and use the right fertilizer:
- For general plant maintenance, a balanced (10-10-10) formulation
is recommended. Follow application and dilution instructions on the
- Some broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron, will benefit
from a more acidic soil. For these plants there is a ready-made
solution called Muracid, which can be found in garden centers.
- Choose a formula high in phosphorus to encourage bud
development in flowering plants, to foster root growth or to harden
plants off for the winter. To enhance bulb blooming, choose a
formula high in potassium. A high nitrogen ratio (20-10-10) is found
in RapidGro, which is designed to help plants form new leaves and
- Spring is the best time to apply fertilizer because plants are actively
growing. Application in the fall encourages new growth just before
winter, often resulting in frost damage to these softer tips. To avoid
this problem, fertilizer applied after midsummer should be a slow
release nitrogen that is rich in phosphorus.
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All trees and shrubs sold by Hinsdale Nurseries are zone 5 winter hardy. The
following steps will ensure your plants’ continued health throughout the
Evergreens should be well watered throughout the fall until the first frost to
prevent excessive needle drop or browning. Most evergreens, particularly
arborvitae and some pines, will show large amounts of browning in the
middle of the tree around the trunk. This is a natural thinning that
decreases the stress of harsh winter conditions. It may or may not occur
annually and is not a sign of sickness or disease.
Broadleaf evergreens (rhododendrons, hollies, boxwoods) benefit from the
application of an anti-transpirant such as WiltPruf to reduce the amount of
moisture lost through the foliage.
Deciduous trees and shrubs should be watered in and mulched before the
ground freezes. This will protect roots over the winter and aid limb and
foliage development in the spring. Oak leaves or shredded bark should be
applied around the base of the roots in fall (be careful not to bury the trunk
where it touches the soil or rot may set in.) In spring, spread the leaves or
bark in planting beds.
Tree guards or chicken wire may be needed for some plants that are prone
to animal damage, such as hemlock, rhododendron, viburnum, kerria, and
roses. Tree wraps will help protect trunks of smaller trees from deer and
insects and may prevent some species from splitting in the early spring sun.