Seedling Planting and Care

Tree Seedling Planting and Care Tips

Graphic illustration of a seedling in a bucket for step 1, and a shovel on the ground for step 2


1. Unpack your trees, remove all packing materials, carefully untangle the roots and soak the roots in water 3 to 6 hours. DO NOT allow the roots to dry out.


2. Dig a hole, wider than seems necessary, so the roots can grow outward without crowding. Remove any grass within a 3-foot circular area. To aid root growth, turn soil in an area up to 3 feet in diameter.


Graphic illustration of a seedling being placed in a hole, roots down3.  Plant the tree at the same depth it stood in the nursery, with plenty of room for the roots. Partially fill the hole, firming the soil around the lower roots. Do not add soil amendments such as peat or bark. Do not use fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals on your new trees.


4.  Shovel in the remaining soil. It should be firmly but not tightly packed. Construct a water-holding basin around the tree. Give the tree plenty of water. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch two inches deep in a 3-foot diameter area around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.


Graphic illustration of seedling planted in ground and watering, step 4 and 55.  The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.




River Birch

Northern Red Oak


Silky Dogwood

Cercis canadensis

Betula nigra

Quercus rubra

Carica papaya

Cornus amomum

photo of bright pink redbud flowers photo of the bark of a rich birch tree photo of the leaves of a Northern Red Oak tree photo of leaves and fruit on a Pawpaw tree photo of flowers and leaves of a Silky Dogwood tree

This small native tree is most often recognized by its leaves which have distinctly heart-shaped lobes. It is also recognized by its showy magenta pink flowers which appear from spring through summer.

The redbud at its best will grow to be a small tree approximately 20-30’ tall and 26-34’ crown spread. The Henry’s elfin butterfly and hummingbirds utilize eastern redbud for nectar. Honeybees use the flowers for pollen.

This tree is usually one of the first trees to bloom in spring. Flowering occurs in March to May before leaf growth.

Most often recognized by salmon-pink to reddish brown bark which peels off to reveal lighter inner bark underneath, and by the long, dangling, reddish-yellow flower clusters called catkins which appear in April and May.

It can grow to be approximately 40-90 feet tall, as either a single or multi-stemmed tree. River birch is typically found in wet areas but can be planted just about anywhere.

The foliage is eaten by browsing animals such as deer, and the small but plentiful seeds are appreciated by a wide range of songbirds.

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Last Updated: May 10, 2021