|Trees and shrubs grown in containers are quite forgiving and can be left for weeks in their pots before planting. Those that we dig up and move from one place to another are not so kind, and speed is of the essence in replanting them. Choose a site that suits the plant – sunny, shady, or somewhere in between. For example, hydrangeas need sunlight, but wilt in late afternoon sun so are better located in a sunny spot where some shade is available after about 3pm.
If you are planting in soil that has not been improved, it most likely will need additions of organic matters to create a well-drained soil. Dig a hole that is wider than deep, but at least a bit deeper than the container or whatever size root ball you are moving. Put a fertilizer such as Mighty Grow into the hole – a quarter cup for a shrub in a one gallon pot. Mix another organic matter such as ground bark, compost, or leaf mold into the soil you dig out of the hole, about 1 part organic matter to 3 parts of the native soil. Put some of the new mix into the hole to cover the fertilizer, enough to support the root ball and to put it at the same level or slightly higher than it was growing originally. Backfill around the rootball about halfway up the hole and then tamp the soil down to help it settle. Don’t pound, just press the soil in firmly. Finish filling and tamping until the root ball is stable, water well with a transplant fertilizer, and mulch with 2 inches of ground bark.
Even drought tolerant trees and shrubs need water in dry seasons during their first two years in the garden. Other plants need water regularly and fertilizer twice a year to reach their potential. And that’s the point, after all, in planting a new tree or shrub – to grow it!