Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Tips for tree planting in Houston




Trees can be planted or moved any time of year provided . . . you are going to remember to go out and water them almost daily if we have no rain. If you are not going to go check the soil around your new tree every day for a year, plant it in Dec/Jan/Feb when it is dormant and we are getting plenty of rain.

Do not fertilize your tree the first year, except for the local preferred starter ‘SuperThrive’. I myself prefer Shultz ‘Starter Plus’ which just has extra phosphate to get the roots growing. Only use these once when you first plant the tree. After that wait a year before fertilizing.

When you move a tree remember you must remove equal amounts of leaves as you have roots. If you left half the roots behind, you had better prune off half of the leaves. If you purchase a tree for planting don’t do any pruning the first year.

Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and about as deep as the root ball. You don’t want the tree settling down into loosened soil underneath it.

If it is a potted tree you purchased, unpot it and cut off the very bottom of the root ball. Then slice four vertical slices about a quarter inch deep down the root ball. Do these an equal distance apart with a razor or extremely sharp knife. This gets the roots growing in a direction outside the shape of the pot.

Place the dirt and the tree in the hole so the tree ends up with its base just a few inches above ground level. Cover the ground with a couple of inches of mulch for at least a foot, maybe two around the tree.

Now take your left over dirt and create a wall around the mulch a couple of inches tall. This helps keep water in near the roots of your new tree and helps prevent injuries from lawnmowers and weed trimmers.

According to the A&M, who did tests, the trees planted back with the same soil grew 25% larger and had a much more extensive root system after 5 years.

When choosing a tree don’t go for the largest one. A smaller tree will settle in quicker and surpass a tree that is much larger with in five years. Remember you are in it for the long haul when you plant a tree. Like the rabbit beating the hare, the smaller tree will beat the larger tree over time.

Staking a tree is not recommended. The trunk will not strengthen properly if it is kept too stiff. The only reason you might stake a tree is to keep the roots from moving around while the tree settles. If you stake be sure to use 2 or 3 stakes and place them a foot or more out from the end of the roots.

Keep grass as far from your tree as possible.  Remember the tree roots spread out as far as do the branches.  Grass will greatly slow down and stop proper root development. The reason for this is a lack of air getting into the soil under the grass. Roots need air too.   The less grass near your tree, the stronger and better developed will be the root system. If you must have grass near your tree make sure you find a way to get air to the tree roots under the grass. ( ref. Agricultural Testament)