River Birch Trees are fairly easy to plant because they are fairly rugged and durable. Yet to plant or transplant them you do need to follow some basic guidelines. We have been growing River Birch Trees for a number of years and offer these suggestions for planting in Solebury Pa.
All people handling River Birches seedlings and small trees need to help with the life support of your plants. Seedlings are like fish out of water and need care which is often overlooked between the time the seedlings are lifted and transplanted. Improper care means higher mortality. Do not try and reinvent the wheel. You must protect seedling from moisture and temperature extremes, as well as physical damage.
Seedlings are living and should be handled carefully. For a higher survival rate, treat trees carefully and plant them immediately. I like to have a backup plan for planting if the weather turns bad. I will sometimes switch from lining out the seedlings to potting them up if I realize that the soil conditions will not be right for an extended Length of time. If planting must be delayed a few days, keep the plants in a cold, protected place with air circulation between the trees. Keep the River Birches trees out of the rain and wind. To check if the trees need water, feel the media at the roots. If it isn’t damp,
water the trees and allow the excess water to drain. In cool, damp weather, the biggest threat to these trees is from mold. Try to keep out of soil seedlings moist by either restricting water loss with a water vapor barrier or by wetting the roots at regular intervals. While handling or planting try to reduce temperature and air movement around the seedlings. Windy days can dry out seedlings so consider waiting for calmer weather. Once your soil conditions are correct OUR FREE USE PLANTERS will make planting a snap so its will be worth waiting for good planting conditions.
HOW TO PLANT
Ideal planting days are cool and cloudy with little or no wind. If possible, avoid planting on warm, windy days. The soil should be moist not wet. Care in planting is more important than speed. Make sure the roots are never allowed to become dry. Bare root seedlings should be carried in a waterproof bag or bucket with plenty of moist material packed around the roots to keep them damp. Ideally, bare root boxes should be kept refrigerated or packed in ice or snow. Don’t freeze the trees.
Competition from weeds, grass, brush or other trees is very detrimental to survival and growth of seedlings. Choose areas free from this competition or clear at least a three-foot square bare spot before planting. Seedlings should not be planted under the crown of existing trees, or closer than 6 feet to existing brush. Avoid areas near walnut trees.
Brush aside loose organic material such as leaves, grass, etc., from the planting spot to expose mineral soil. If organic matter gets into the planting hole, it can decompose and leave air spaces. Roots will dry out when they grow into these spaces.
Open up the hole, making sure the hole is deep enough for the roots to be fully extended. If roots are curled or bunched up, the tree will not be able to take up water correctly, will often weaken and die, or may blow down later due to poor root structure.
Take a tree out of your planting bag or bucket only after a hole is ready. When exposed, the fine roots can dry out in as little as 30 seconds. Seedling shoots and roots lose water to air, roots require more protecting.Unlike leaves ,they do not have stomata (close-able openings on the surface of the leaves) or any waxy coatings to help reduce water loss. If the Dura Heat and Heritage River Birches roots feel dry they are probably dead. Now I know you are thinking,”I will place them in a bucket of water and store them there until planting”. This will not work. Submerge plants for no longer that a couple of minutes. Placing them in water cuts them off from oxygen. Remember to remove the container before planting a containerized tree. A helpful hint to all those new gardeners just starting is to remember to always plant green side up.
Hold the seedling in place in the hole, making sure the roots are straight, fully extended and that the tree is neither too shallow or too deep in the hole.
Fill hole, allowing soil to fall in around the roots. Tamp with hands or with your heel. Don’t crush the roots by jumping up and down around the seedling like there is a snake curled up around the seedling. It is delicate. Fill with more soil, if necessary, and tamp. Tamping is important. If soil is not firmly packed around the roots, there will be air pockets that can dry out the roots, and the seedlings may be weakly anchored. It is far easier to plant the tree strait up then have the tree leaning and have to adjust the tree later.
(Addition of fertilizer and plant vitamins at the time of planting is not generally necessary.)
Take your time in planting. Proper spacing will help you grow a more valuable crop. I have tried to get more production from a limited area by over planting and then thinning, but I always have had trouble in harvesting …. digging is slower and poor quality usually results for a portion of the crop. Avoid these tree planting errors:
Planting too shallow
Planting too deep
Turned up roots (this is called J rooting)
Planting trees that are not tolerant of wet soils in poorly drained areas
Planting over rocks, septic tanks and leach fields, on sand mounds
CARE OF TREES FOLLOWING PLANTING
Check periodically to be sure that brush, grass and other vegetation is kept under control by mowing, mulching, spraying or a combination of these treatments. Always obtain advice from a licensed pest control adviser before using chemicals. You ag extension agency may offer courses in application of chemicals. Monitoring the appearance of your trees will help you to detect signs of insects, diseases or other problems. Appearances also help sell your product. Look for foliage turning yellow, new foliage drooping or other signs of poor health. It is easier to take successful corrective action if the problem is detected early.
Over watering is a common problem in irrigated plantations. You probably won’t need to water more frequently than every 7-10 days. Give your trees a thorough, deep soak and then let the soil dry out before the next watering. This encourages the roots to grow down in search of water. Frequent, shallow watering encourages root growth near the surface and the trees are more dependent on irrigation and are less windfirm.
Animals can be a major cause of damage to young trees. Porcupines, gophers, mice, rabbits, deer and cattle are the most frequent source of damage. In many states you may have to call your game commission and get their recommendations on legal methods to protect your crop. In our state, you can get help from the Pa. Game Commission to kill deer that are a threat to your seedlings or obtain a free fence to keep deer away from your seedlings. Over the years we have lost more trees to mice than any other animal. Put rat baits out on a regular basis. Over the years we have lost more seedlings and plants to mice than any other culprit including deer and rabbit ts combined.
You an see more articles about the care of trees plants and nursery stock at our web site:
http://www.seedlingsrus.com and http://www.highlandhillfarm.com