Spring/Summer Planting Instructions (Containerized)
If you’ve purchased our trees from one of our retailers located throughout the U.S., it is important to consider your local weather conditions and the stage of dormancy of your trees. Our nursery is located in north Florida and we have an extended growing season here in the south. If your trees are fully dormant when you purchase them, they can tolerate light freezing or frost and can be planted right away. However, if we have experienced warm spring temperatures at the nursery, your trees may already be leafed out when they are delivered to your area. In this case, the trees need to be protected from freezing or frost until your local weather has warmed up or your area has gone beyond the last spring frost date. The trees can be kept outside in their containers, but if you’re expecting freezing temperatures you can protect your trees by bringing them inside a garage or barn, or covering them with frost cloth until you are ready to plant. Remember to keep the soil in the container slightly moist, but not overly wet.
If you have already planted your trees, they are leafed out, and your area is expecting a late spring frost, protect them by wrapping the canopy with frost cloth or an old sheet. Prolonged temperatures below 30 degrees F can cause cambial damage and even death to young trees that are already leafed out.
If you are planning to wait until summer or even fall to plant your trees, they can be kept in their original containers. Just make sure to keep them watered regularly as temperatures begin to warm up.
Your planting site selection should be in full sun and in well-drained, sandy loam soils with a pH between 5 and 6.5. Do not plant in non-low-lying areas that stay saturated for long periods of time. Most trees do not grow well in wet soils. Dense clay soils stunt root growth and hold too much water, leading to weak, slow-growing trees. Also, avoid frost pockets (bottoms of valleys) because late frosts can hurt nut and fruit production, especially in northern locations. A sheltered north-facing slope protected from drying winds and the low sun of winter may be better for cold windy sites. Prepare the area by removing any weeds prior to planting. This step is often overlooked but is absolutely critical to successful planting. Weeds and grass steal light, water, and nutrients from your trees. We recommend weed mats or mulch.
Dig a hole 2 times wider than the pot, so the roots can grow outward without crowding, but not deeper than the root ball.
Carefully remove the tree from the container keeping the soil around the roots intact. It helps to tap the outside of the container to loosen the edge. Carefully slide the tree from the container. Don’t yank the tree out of the container as this can separate the roots from the tree. If there are any tightly circled roots, gently separate and spread them with your fingers before planting.
Plant them at the same height they were grown in the container (at the crown where the bark changed from green to brown) with plenty of room for the roots. Partially fill the planting hole with the native soil. Set the tree in the middle of the hole with plenty of room for the roots. Avoid planting the tree too deep. Using some soil, secure the tree in a straight position, then fill with native soil and firm the soil around the lower roots making sure there are no air pockets. Keep backfilling until the soil is level with the root collar. Do not add soil amendments such as compost, peat, or bark as this can cause root fungus. Do not use fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals on your young trees.
We recommend keeping the pot stake attached to the tree for 1 season. After 1 season you can remove the pot stake. If the tree appears stable, staking is not needed. If staking is necessary, hold the trunk with one hand to find the height at which the unsupported top can stand up on its own and will spring back to a vertical position if gently flexed. Allow trees a slight amount of flex rather than holding them rigidly in place. Tree straps should be made of material that will not injure the tree. If using grow tubes, staking the tree is not necessary. You will need to attach a stake to your grow tubes. Find grow tube installation instructions here.
Create a water-holding basin around the hole and water the trees thoroughly at planting, making sure that there are no air pockets around the roots. Water slowly at the drip line. After the water has soaked in, spread a protective layer of mulch 2-4” deep around the trunk, pulling the mulch a few inches away from the trunk. Leaf litter, hay, shredded or fine bark, or pine needles are good choices for mulch. You can also use weed mats to prevent weed competition and reduce water evaporation. They will need to be watered regularly, at least twice per week as temperatures rise throughout the summer growing season and more often during dry spells. The amount of water needed is dependent on your soil, temperatures, and rainfall. IT IS EXTREMELY CRITICAL THAT NEWLY TRANSPLANTED TREES BE WATERED REGULARLY DURING THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF GROWTH. It is the most important factor to ensure the successful start of your new trees! For more information on watering go to the Growing and Care section of our Learning Center.
Remove any ties, tags, and labels from the trees to prevent girdling branches and trunks.
We recommend using Grow Tubes for wildlife, food plots, and forest plantings. Grow Tubes act like mini-greenhouses, recycling moisture from leaf transpiration to nurture the growth of young seedlings until the tree is big enough to survive on its own. Grow Tubes also provide protection against deer, rodent, and rabbit browsing and chewing, and can also provide a barrier against herbicide drift if the herbicide is used to control weeds (which can kill young trees). Do not use black plastic drain pipes or tubing as tree shelters. They will damage your trees. Weeds compete for water and fertilizer, so weed control is important. We also recommend weed mats – both weed mats, Grow Tubes, and growing aids are available on our website.
You do not need to prune your trees at this time. After next summer’s growing season, you can do any necessary pruning during the following winter months.
Do not fertilize the trees when planting. Your trees received fertilizer this spring at the nursery, so you do not need to fertilize them until next spring. We recommend a time-released fertilizer with balanced micronutrients, such as the Scotts Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor 19-6-12, Espoma Holly Tone, or Tree Tone Organic Fertilizer (available at most Garden Centers). Do not expect your trees to grow rapidly this first year. The trees will be putting a majority of their energy into new root production. Once established, they will make rapid growth in the following years.
We recommend removing any small fruit or nuts that begin to form during the first 2 years. This leaves the tree with more energy for root establishment. By year 3-5, your chestnut and fruit trees should start to bear depending on the care they receive and the climate they’re in. Trees planted in colder regions such as USDA zone 5, may bear between 5 and 7 years of age.