Trees are the Answer!


Trees are all around us here in North Idaho, so many of us take them for granted. Trees help combat global warming. They cool our homes and our environment. They save us money on heating and cooling costs with the shade and wind protection they offer us. Trees raise property values. Trees add so much to the quality of our lives. If we lived in a place that was barren and had no trees, we would realize how very fortunate we really are.
Stand outdoors in your yard in the hottest part of the day in summer and you will know if you could benefit from the protection of a tree. I was reminded of this as I drove down Manito Blvd one hot summer day not too long ago. Both sides of the street were lined with big, beautiful, mature trees that shaded the whole street and gave everyone on the street a break from the sweltering sun. If you already have trees in your yard, be thankful. If you do not, now is a great time to decide if you want to add one and plant it now.
Fall is the absolute best time to plant a tree. It allows the tree a great deal of time to get established before the heat of summer comes and stresses it. The great thing about planting in the Fall is that you can almost plant it and forget about it. Trees planted when the temps are warmer must be watered much more carefully all summer. Fall planted trees will need to be watered regularly, too, however they will require less and less care as the Fall turns into Winter.

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Advice for planting in the heat of Summer

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People ask me daily if it is Okay to plant in this heat we have been experiencing.  My first comment is an enthusiastic “YES”.  I go on to explain that most plants that have been surviving in black plastic nursery pots will be 100 times better off in the ground where the soil will insulate it and give it room to spread out.  They will not be as likely to dry out in between watering.  Most newly planted items are given a dose of some starter fertilizer and have organic amendments added around them when planted.  As long as they are given sufficient water, they will reward you as they thrive and grow.

Watering will be the biggest factor in determining if you plant stresses from the transplanting or not.  I can tell you that the plants in nurseries are watered twice a day in this heat.  You should do the same and then gradually taper down to once a day and then maybe every other day for the remainder of the growing season. It would be wise for you to plant in the early morning or in the evening when it cools, as this is going to be the least stressful for you and the plants!

Plants that do not get their water needs met will let you know.  They will start with wilted leaves and if seen and watered soon enough, they will recover.  If not caught soon enough, the wilted leaves will get crispy. This can happen to the entire leaf or just to the edges. This does not mean the plant is dead. Many times, simply cleaning off the crispy leaves will help the appearance and the plant will replace the leaves within a couple of weeks.  If a plant goes dry for so long that the branches or main stems also become dry and crispy, you can usually cut back the plant to healthy growth and it will grow back.  With perennials, many can be cut down to the ground and they will grow back from the roots, as long as the root ball did not dry out completely.

I like to remind people that landscapers plant shrubs and trees almost all year long. They are experienced and familiar with the demands of the heat, but you can take the steps I mentioned above and plant to your heart’s content, even in the heat!  Happy Planting!