Tips on buy­ing cedars from a box store

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - Local Dirt -

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.

Dwarf cedar.

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