How to Buy and Plant Trees (cont)
By: Lance Walheim
Watering. Bare-root trees do not need to be watered again until two to four weeks after growth resumes. Container and B&B trees need regular watering until their roots grow into surrounding soil. During hot weather, these trees may need to be watered every two to three days to keep the root-ball moist. Occasionally wetting the soil outside the basin will ensure that roots develop into the surrounding soil. Expand the basin as the tree grows.
Pruning. Most new trees need no pruning the first season other than to remove broken branches. Pruning may reduce the total growth of a young tree. These cautions noted, if large, vigorously growing branches are too low or competitive with more desirably placed branches, you can safely cut them back. This preserves some foliage but reduces competition. Eventually they can be removed.
Pinch out the tips of vigorous growth in order to stimulate side branching. If the leader is growing vigorously and no laterals are forming at a height you would like, pinch out an inch of the tip growth when it is at the height where you would like a permanent branch. Several shoots will grow from below the pinch. When the new shoots are 3 to 4 inches long, select the most vigorous (hopefully the top one) for the leader and pinch back the other shoots. If growth is vigorous, this can be repeated a couple of more times, allowing two or three main branches to be selected the first growing season.
Fertilizer. If young trees are growing slowl poorly colored foliage, they may benefit from adding a nitrogen fertilizer to the watering basin. Remove support stakes soon after the tree can stand on its own.
Lance Walheim is a citrus farmer and garden specialist living in Exeter, California
Photography by National Arbor day Foundation