The weather has really taken a downward turn, I’m just in after a long day and its freezing, quite literally, but that is good for the trees and hedging plants, it enforces their dormancy to get a bit of R&R over the winter so they can store their energy for growth in the spring, so everything has stopped growing and if you are planning on planting said trees & hedging now is the very best time to do that, the earlier in the bare-root season the better so that when the spring comes that they are well settled into their new home and ready to put all that reserved energy into the important business of growing.
If you are planting at this stage in the year, most nurseries, like ours, lift to order as we can’t lift quick enough to have a reserve and this means that the plant material is good and fresh. We transport in frost resistant bags as you don’t want those roots to be damaged by frost or wind and they need to retain the moisture so keep them in the bags until you are ready to plant, this should be within 7-10 days. Wet the roots before planting and if planting a hedge dig individual holes rather than a trench, it will serve you well in the long run. Add a good compost to the back fill soil and gently firm in. No need to add any fertiliser at this time of year, leave that until the spring, to do so now is just a waste. If the trees or hedges or larger or if you are on an exposed or windy site then you will need to give the trees or hedging support and staking will be required to stop new roots being damaged.
When it comes to the Spring, I would always recommend a good fertiliser on or around St Patricks Day, one with good levels of Nitrogen for early Spring growth & root development. A slow release fertiliser like Osmocote will give enough nutrients for the whole season and do the entire. This will also have good levels of Phosphorus, which will balance the nutrient intake of the plants and Potassium which is important for the flowering and fruiting of the plants.
Don’t be tempted to over-fertilise as this can drive the plants on too much but also most of the excess will just be wasted in the soil. There are people that say that you need to plant smaller plants to let them get established well and larger, more mature plants don’t do well, the only truth in this is if you don’t have the nutrients or if the site is very exposed or windy but those are the very gardens that need the shelter. In these circumstances ask the questions and I am always happy to give the advice based upon the selection and the site.
In my next news item I am looking at larger, more mature trees and how to get the best from them, what trees to use where and why in the meantime keep your questions coming in to the usual contact details firstname.lastname@example.org