Plant Care Resource Guide

Last updated: March 25, 2015

Nature Hills Nursery wants to make sure that you are more than satisfied with our level of service and support. We appreciate your business and we're excited to help with this how-to guide to nurture beautiful and healthy trees & shrubs. In order to allow you to do this, we have created the following sections (Please click on the section to view our useful information):

Note: Some content and images of this Plant Care Resource Guide was adapted from and their "How to Plant a Tree Section".

Plant appearance upon arrival

Plant size, plant appearance, plant roots, plant width, and plant thickness will all be different and unique to the species you ordered. Root development also varies greatly between species and also in the same plant species. Each plant is unique.

Nature Hills Nursery bare root plants will always arrive without leaves. They are dormant. Customers who have never seen bare root plants have described them as appearing lifeless & without leaves. 

These dormant plants are alive and viable. In late spring you may observe some budding on plants. Some species will begin to bud on their trip to your location. This is normal. Some plants, when planted in early spring, will take up to 5-6 weeks to bud or break dormancy because of cool weather or species related tendencies.

The plant roots will always arrive wrapped in a bag. In the bag will be a root moisturizing product called sphagnum moss or shredded cedar. The moss or shredded cedar will be placed around the root system to keep them moist. When you remove the plant from the bag the moss or shredded cedar will fall off the roots.

The roots are also dipped into a moisturizing agent to assist the roots in attracting moisture from the surrounding environment. The dipping agent is Terrasorb and you may notice some tiny crystals of Terrasorb on the roots.

Nature Hills potted plants will arrive, depending on time of year, either with or without leaves. Dormant plants will not have leaves. Actively growing plants will have leaves. 

When the Plant arrives

The plant you ordered from Nature Hills will arrive in a box or container. Our shipper of choice is FedEx. When you pick up the box left by FedEx, use the following checklist.

  1. Check box for damage. Report damaged box to FedEx. FedEx customer service number:1-800-GoFedEx    (1-800-463-3339).
  2. Open the box by cutting all the tape, so when you remove the plant(s) it will not catch on an unopened part of the box and be damaged.
  3. Remove plant(s) from box carefully so you do not pull off any plant identification tags.
  4. Carefully open bag that covers the root system or pot and check for moisture with your fingers. If it is dry, sprinkle with water.
  5. Plant immediately. 

Storing and planting your plants

If you cannot plant right away (within 72 hours) you will need to store your plants in a suitable location.

Storage for Nature Hills potted plants

Open the plastic wrapper that contains the pot. Replenish the moisture every other day until planted. Do not over water, but do not let roots dry out. Keep the plants out of extreme heat and cold. Store the plant in an area where it will receive partial shade during the day and place in an area such as a garage where it will not freeze at night. 

Storage for Nature Hills Select plants (bare root)

Upon arrival of your bare root plants, open the bag and keep the sphagnum moss moist until planting. Store all bare root plants in a cool location between 38 and 50 degrees. Keep the roots covered with moist moss. Please cover the roots, not the top of the tree. This will reduce mold. Do not allow plants to freeze or to over heat in direct sun. A satisfactory place for storing your bare root plants would be on a garage floor. Keep storage time to minimum. If you must keep bare root plants stored for over a week, dig a small trench and place the roots in the trench and cover the roots with soil. Water the soil adequately.

Planting instructions for Nature Hills potted plants

Carefully remove the pot from the plant. Make an effort to keep as much of the soil medium that envelops the roots intact. Place the soil and root ball a hole at the same depth it grew in the nursery. The soil level of Nature's Pride potted plant should be flush with surface of the ground. Leave a shallow depression around each plant to hold water. Water the plant thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots. Do not let plant roots dry out at any time. Your plants will need regular rain or watering each week to optimize survival and healthy growth.

Keep your plantings free of weeds. Using mulch around each plant is a great way to provide a weed free environment for your plants.

Planting instructions for bare root plants

Remove bag from the root area. Moisturize roots thoroughly. Spraying or dipping the roots in water is recommended. Keep the roots covered and moist until the moment you place them in the soil. Never let the roots be exposed to drying winds or direct sun.

Plant at the same depth it grew in the nursery. If you look carefully you can see a small tree ring circling the trunk where the root system and trunk divide. Do not plant extra deep, just make sure the roots are covered with soil. Leave a shallow depression around each plant to hold water. Water the plant thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots. Water about once a week for the first year if possible.

Keep your plantings free of weeds. Using mulch around each plant is a great way to provide a weed free environment for your plants.

All plants end up in a hole, but not any old hole will do...

The most common mistake when planting is digging a hole, which is both too deep and too narrow. Too deep and the roots don’t have access to sufficient oxygen to ensure proper growth. Too narrow and the root structure can’t expand sufficiently to nourish and properly anchor the tree or plant.

As a general rule plants should be transplanted no deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown. The width of the hole should be at least 3 times the diameter of the root ball or container or the spread of the roots. This will provide the plant with enough worked earth for its root structure to establish itself.

When digging in poorly drained clay soil, it is important to avoid ‘glazing’. Glazing occurs when the sides and bottom of a hole become smoothed forming a barrier, through which water has difficulty passing. To break up the glaze, use a fork to work the bottom and drag the points along the sides of the completed hole. Also, raise the bottom of the hole slightly higher than the surrounding area. This allows water to disperse, reducing the possibility of water pooling in the planting zone.

To plant, first build a cone of earth in the center of the hole around which to splay the roots. Dig a round hole and make a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole. Spread the roots out in all directions, using the mound as a root support, and pull loose soil back over the roots, filling the hole half way. Lightly tamp soil down or fill with water. Then, back fill the rest of the hole, tamp soil again and re-water. Do not compact the soil by tamping wet soil. Soil compaction eliminates oxygen, which roots need to survive. 

Information regarding plant care

Our goal is to offer you a basic checklist to help determine what is needed to grow and maintain a healthy plant.

Site selection: Choose a plant that will thrive in the location you desire to place it. Plants have different tolerances to soils, shade, heat, and cold.

Watering: All plants require some moisture. Providing water on a weekly basis, either in the form of rain, or supplemental watering, generally will suffice for most plants. Be aware that you can over water. When plants or trees are small, moisture must be made available in the root zone. Small plants and trees have small root zones. Moisture must be placed in an area where the roots can access the moisture.

Fertilization: Plants have a wide range of fertility needs. To obtain healthy vigorous growth, fertility is a must. Providing the proper fertilizer at the proper times can greatly increase plant health and growth. If your plant site is deficient of fertility, you will have to provide it in the form of supplemental fertilizer. Test your soil for deficiencies.

Pruning: Individual plants may be pruned to enhance their attractiveness, or in some cases to reinvigorate flowering or to reduce the opportunity for diseases. Pruning times and recommendations for individual plants can be obtained from our Gardening Tips as well as our Q and A Library


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