How much water for newly planted trees?

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by johnnyjumpup, May 7, 2008.

  1. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Help!

    I have planted two new 6 foot trees, trunks about the size of a broom handle, a cornus florida and a stewartia pseudocamillia. How much water and how often should I apply?

    A gallon a week? Two? Water every three days? Once a week? I can set up a soaker hose on a timer. I don't want to drown them. I will be away for the first three weeks in June unexpectedly and want to give them the best chance. I have lots of coir mulch and chopped leaves. June here is usually cool and rainy but can also be hot. Dilemma.

    I also have three smaller trees, two to three feet high, trunks the size of pencils or perhaps a small Sharpie (magnolia, cercis and cornus kousa chinensis).

    How much and how often would you set the irrigation for an established flowerbed? Large pots of oriental lilies? Flower boxes of fuchsia and impatiens?

    Any help at all would be greatly appreciated. Have never used automatic watering before. Also have a Japanese Full Moon Maple repotted this spring. He's two feet high and has a trunk about 2 inches in diameter.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,702
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Depends on soil textures both inside the original rootballs and outside of them and weather experienced there. Monitor these individually, respond with watering as necessary. After rooting out into surrounding soil is well along then the same watering that keeps other plants with same moisture requirements going will suit the new trees.

    How often containers and other existing plantings will need watering will also depend on texture of material they are growing in and what the weather does. If you have no idea what may be required there maybe get some guidance from someone local who can come out and look things over, discuss them with you. As the occupant of the garden you are in the best position to have observed how often each plant or planting is starting to dry out.
     
  3. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Hello Ron,

    Thanks for replying so quickly. The Cornus florida was balled and burlapped in soil that seemed quite heavy, definitely holding its ball shape - looked like subsoil. It was in a big pot with some shredded bark on top. The burlap was rotting away and quite easy to remove around the top. There were healthy white roots coming through the burlap which I didn't disturb. Every book I read about cornus florida said well drained soil a must. A test hole dug and filled with 3 watering cans of water took less than 45 minutes to drain away. I amended the soil with chunky coir mulch, Beyond Peat fine coir, leaf mould, Gaia rock sand and bonemeal mixed in with the regular sandy loam. I was surprised that the balled soil was so heavy. It weighed a ton.

    The stewartia was in a pot with what looked like shredded bark. Much lighter. The soil is the same amended mix. Both are in part sun, both in a mixed border. I usually depend on the plants to mulch the soil. Should the new trees dry out somewhat between waterings? I can stick a chopstick or something in beside the tree to monitor the moisture but am unsure as how much is enough. If I give them a good 2 hr soaking once a week in say 20C weather over the next two weeks would that be sufficient? I will be able to monitor them more closely over the next two weeks but would appreciate an estimate.

    Thank you
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,702
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Surface dryness is OK, but not drying of the whole rooting area. Sounds like you are on the way to getting it figured out on your own. Keep checking to find out how much water does the job on your soil, and how often you have to apply it - remember this will vary with weather conditions. Later in June the trees may require more frequent watering than now, there is no fail-safe arrangement you can make other than having someone continue looking after the trees while you are gone. It could become much hotter during that time than it is now.

    Any future plantings should not receive amended planting hole backfill, that is not beneficial. Refill planting holes with same soil that came out of them, without modification. Avoid planting in pockets or strips of differently textured soil, this often creates the same watering difficulties as occur with undisturbed rootballs having different textures from planting hole backfills.

    Some of these pdf files may be of interest. Note in particular the photo and caption at the bottom of the page.

    http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda Chalker-Scott/Horticultural Myths_files/index.html
     
  5. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Hello Ron,

    Thank you for the link to Linda Chalker website at Puyallup. I will bookmark it. Lots of interesting info. Having read the article on balled and burlapped trees my next task is to dig up the cornus florida, break into the ball of clay and check on the roots. As the burlap had almost all rotted off the tree must have been balled for some time and the roots may well be girdled. I'll put the clay on the compost pile. Fingers crossed. I wondered about the different soils but did not want to disturb the root ball.

    Thanks a heap.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,702
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Try this right after the leaves drop in fall, so you don't have it wilt and shrivel on you.
     
  7. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Hi Ron,

    I was planning to dig up the cornus and the stewartia today, remove the clay on one and the bark on the other, check the roots and replant them immediately as more or less bare roots as recommended in Linda's articles. As I read the articles, it seemed that she recommended removing the soil when planting. They have only been planted a few days so they really haven't had a chance to settle in much. I was thinking they will have the whole growing season to adjust and settle in. If I wait until fall, I will have lost a whole year.
     
  8. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Hi Ron,

    Me again. I love the Linda Chalker-Scott website. So much to learn. I never thought of having too much organic matter, not that I have ever had excessive amounts to throw around.

    About the amended soil. The trees are in a mixed border and my plan was to amend the soil as I moved plants about - not an easy task. Linda recommended a mulch of arbourist wood chips 4 to 6 inches deep. I can see the advantage of applying such a mulch to a newly planted landscape, even an ongoing shrub border. I can't see how to apply it to an established mixed border where I have planted in layers as well as having plants knitted close together so as to have things blooming from March to November, snow crocuses, bulbs, violets, primroses, lemonlilys, columbines, hesperis, lupins, siberian iris, tree and herbaceous peonies, lady's mantle, phlox, shastas, clematis, roses, lilies, aster Monch, etc., etc.

    I have been top dressing with bagged manure in spring and chopped leaves in fall and what compost I have when I transplant or move things around.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,702
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    I wouldn't chance it with summer dry period and a trip away coming on. Note Chalker-Scott's instructions to

    Keep your tree well watered during the first year of establishment. You may have removed a
    good portion of the root system and its ability to take up water and nutrients will be
    temporarily impaired.


    I don't remember specifically but I think elsewhere she addresses the possible wilting and shriveling problem by saying you should be planting in fall anyway; I think I have also read her saying in WSU Master Gardener magazine (in reply to a question about a flowering dogwood, in fact) that wilting wouldn't kill it and it was more important to get the roots straightened out. Since you may find root deformities that need correction the best time might be at the end of next winter, when new root growth will immediately come from cut root ends as dormant buds at branch tips open. Bare-rooting is always traumatic and not all plants can take it or have a root structure that is open enough to even make it possible, rhododendrons and other heath family plants for instance.

    Unless you have terrible soil and are trying to grow plants with very specific soil requirements amending should not really be necessary. Then there is the problem (as Chalker-Scott relates) of organic amendments decomposing over time and returning you to the original soil, well before permanent plantings have finished using the site. Frequently replaced subjects like annual flowers and vegetables can have their soil periodically re-amended, this is not practical with anything remaining in place indefinitely. Many such garden plants (vegetables etc.) are also derived from pioneer species likely to be popping up on recently disturbed sites with high organic and nutrient levels (near habitations) so it is naturalistic for them to be given this kind of soil environment.

    Mulching you want to have in place at all times, indefinitely, except on vegetable patches where you want the soil to warm up. Comparatively coarse mulches like wood chips are more effective than fine ones like bagged manure. The unit cost on bagged products is also much higher than bulk. Arborist wood chips can even be gotten for free. However, these may have some litter or weeds mixed in, it also seems when coming from the sides of roads it would have whatever toxics cars and utility poles were depositing on the trees.

    My preference, funds permitting is for cedar play chips. Where there are small plants that might have it move sideways onto them and bury their crowns you just have to put down a thinner layer.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2008
  10. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Kootenay BC Canada
    Hi Ron,

    We have had a very late spring here, my forsythia is just starting to bloom, I still have snow crocuses on the shady side of the house and the weeping willow is just starting to green up in the last few days. Isn't this like early spring next year? The dogwood has small opening bracts and just opening leaves. I have never seen a dogwood available for sale around here in the fall. It's still cool during the day and at night (it's always cool at night). I am wondering what the benefit is of waiting a whole year to do the same thing.

    As to mulch, I have plants on what seems every square inch of soil. and I love my bulbs.
     

Share This Page