Trees & 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 roots.
To soak evenly and thoroughly to a 6-8 inches depth, let the 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 6-8 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 twice a week. Keep in mind that overwatering is just as harmful as under-watering. (Under-watering/sprinkling 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 the amount of water your plants get accordingly, to ensure successful establishment in your garden. Deep, infrequent watering is best.
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 plant’s recovery.
Some symptoms to watch for:
- Loss or sparse distribution of leaves, smaller than normal leaf size.
- A lack of or a shortened period of flowering, faded leaf color, twig dieback, and overall reduced growth.
The 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. Transplant shock symptoms should disappear as the plant adjusts to its new surroundings.
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 into the 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.
- 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 a 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.
- As a guideline: prune 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 the one-year mark, use the following tips:
- 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 and azalea, will benefit from a more acidic soil. For these plants, use a product designed specifically for evergreens.
- 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.
Evergreens should be well watered throughout the fall until the ground freezes 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.
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. Mulch should be applied around the base of the roots in the fall.
Be careful not to bury the trunk where it touches the soil or rot may set in.