Tips on buying cedars from a box store
Cedars are pretty tough trees, but sometimes boxstore varieties can be stressed when you buy them. A few tips can increase your success while saving your pocket book.
• Examine the root ball. Pull the tree out of the plastic pot to see if roots are circling the pot. If so be sure disentangle the roots before planting the tree, otherwise the tree will strangle itself.
• Dig a hole at least twice as large as the pot, but only a little bit deeper. Build a mound in the centre of the hole and carefully position the tree over the mound, spreading the roots out around it.
• Fill the hole with some of the soil you dug up mixed with some organics such as peat moss. The soil mix should be porous enough for moisture penetration but strong enough to anchor the roots. Add some bone meal and some slow release fertilizer to the mix.
• Fertilize in May, June and July with a water soluble fertilizer. In fall after deciduous trees have lost their leaves, add a slow release fertilizer to the root zone to give the plant a boost next spring.
• Add an organic mulch to the root zone to keep moisture in. Be sure to leave a few inches of space between the mulch and the tree trunk.
• Water, water, water, this first year, especially in fall before freeze up. This is critically important to allow the tree to store moisture in its leaves, because cedars do not go completely dormant in winter. Cedars have shallow roots.
• For a cedar hedge, you can plant the trees root ball to root ball.
Cedars need sunlight but be careful of south-facing exposures in areas where the wind is strong and the sunlight is likely to reflect off snow. This can cause winter burn that will turn the needles brown. If this is the exposure, then be sure to create a burlap screen the first couple of years. Do not wrap the tree – just provide a structure that will shield it from harsh winds and bright sunlight in March.
They are subject to few pests and diseases, but watch for scale insects – they can be seen as raised brown spots on the undersides of leaves. The danger from these sucking insects is that they can spread sooty mould, which can kill the tree. The mould appears as black staining on the leaves and twigs. A repeated washing with a sharp spray from a hose in June can help.
Don’t prune too vigorously. Cutting a branch back to the trunk will leave a bare spot that won’t be replaced.