The Q&A Archives: Care of Newly Planted Shrubs

Question: I have planted a 'Little Giant' arborvitae and a 'Minuet' weigela. What do I feed them? How do I prepare them for winter?

Answer: I hope your shrubs are doing well. The best way to keep your plants healthy is to keep the soil healthy. Fertilizer really shouldn't be necessary if your soil is in good shape, and you keep it that way with annual applications of compost.

Around each shrub, create a well by building up a ridge of soil around the trunk that extends at least a foot in all directions. Then spread a couple of inches of compost around each of the plants that extends to drip line (the perimeter of the top growth), and cover it with mulch. Fill the well with water and allow it to sink in slowly. Check the soil moisture regularly to get a feeling of how often you need to water. To check soil moisture, use a long thin metal rod, about the diameter of a screwdriver, and push it into the soil. It will move easily through moist soil, and then stop abruptly when you hit dry soil. The soil should remain slightly moist to the depth of the shrubs' root balls for proper root growth and plant health. If the soil acidity level is correct and the soil drains well, just keep the plants well watered this summer, and they should become well established. Water them as needed right up until the ground freezes, and they should be fine this winter. If you live in a windy or very sunny location, though, it's wise to wrap the trees with burlap to protect them this winter. I hope this helps!

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