The Q&A Archives: Moving Potted trees

Question: We have bought a farm in a different zone, farther north of us, zone 3 in most catalogs.
We have Blue Spruce trees in pots that we would like to plant at our farm. What should we do to make sure they not only survive the move, but thrive once put in the ground?

Answer: Moving the trees in pots is a matter of protecting them from sun, wind and drying out during the trip. It is best to put them in an enclosed truck as travel in an open vehicle is extremely drying on the foliage and could kill them. Do not leave them in a closed vehicle where they could overheat. Make sure the soil does not dry out during the trip.

It is better to plant them as early in the spring as possible, assuming they have been acclimated to the outdoor weather. Water them well prior to planting. Dig planting holes that are as deep as the pot and several times wider, loosening the soil thoroughly to encourage rooting. You could add a bit of compost to each planting hole, however it is best not to amend the soil too much as they need to become accustomed to the native soil conditions.

At planting, plant at the same depth as they are growing in the pot, no deeper. Loosen and/or cut any encircling roots to promote roots growing outward into the surrounding soil. Water deeply to eliminate air pockets and then mulch over the root area with an organic mulch about two to three inches deep.

From then on, water as needed the entire first season through fall, the soil should be evenly moist like a wrung out sponge -- not sopping wet/saturated and not dried out. The first winter you may want to provide them with a wind break if the planting site is very windy.

Good luck with your little trees!

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