Watering newly planted trees and shrubs

Tue. May. 19, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Watering newly planted trees and shrubs

More than ever, folks are working on their landscapes and buying trees and shrubs. These aren’t the kind of plants you plant and forget about!

Spirea and barberry 2020

I planted the spirea on 5-11-19. It will need to be pruned after it flowers to help keep it from spreading but the color of the leaves is so pretty in Spring.

One important aspect of planting new trees and shrubs is, of course, the WAY they’re planted, the other is WATERING.  When they’re new, we really want them to establish roots to withstand what Mother Nature throws at them.  If you didn’t get a watering schedule from the nursery you bought your plants from, this guide will help you.  Watering newly planted trees and shrubs [U of MN extension]

water resevoir for plant

Root systems of bare root, containerized, and balled and burlapped trees and shrubs have been severely reduced or restricted by nursery management practices.  Once you get them home…  Newly planted trees and shrubs need regular and consistent watering until root systems establish.

After planting, those systems will grow and establish until they are much wider than the above ground portion of the plant. During this establishment time, they need consistent watering to prevent water stress.  Some nurseries will give you a watering schedule.  I know my local nursery does.  Follow THEIR directions.  If they didn’t give that to you – ask.  If you bought at a big box store or another type of outlet, then follow my lead.

Crabapple ‘Firebird’ tree planted in April 2020. It’s hard to tell in this photo but there is a resevoir around the tree. The mulch helps to keep the moisture from evaporating

For the first 2 weeks, water daily.  Depending on the size of your new purchase your water VOLUME will vary.  For trees, apply 1-1 1/2 gallons per inch of stem diameter at each watering.  Measure the diameter at 6 inches above the root flare.

When watering newly planted shrubs, apply a volume of water that is 1/4 – 1/3 of the volume of the container that the shrub was purchased in. As roots grow and spread, irrigation volume will need to be increased. Be sure to mulch your new plantings like a donut!