Planting Guide

When Your Order Arrives:

INSPECT YOUR ORDER - Make sure all the items in your order enclosed.  You received an email when the order was placed with the items listed.  If you need a copy, message us and we are happy to send one over.  [email protected]  Then check all the plants; if you discover some broken branches or roots simply prune them off. This will not hurt your plants.

REMEMBER YOUR PLANTS ARE LIKELY DORMANT AND NOT DEAD - The majority of the plants we send are in a dormant state in which they dry up and look dead. Many of the plants are also bare root meaning there will not be dirt surrounding the roots, nor will they be in pots.

Dormancy is the state that a plant/tree/shrub goes into during the winter in cold climates and is the safest way to transport live plants. We keep our bare root items in climate-controlled coolers to keep them in this dormant state until they are packaged for shipping. Some plants may look droopy on arrival. Give them a chance. Plant as directed and water regularly and the plants will almost certainly revive.

Is My Woody Plant or Tree Alive?

If in doubt, do a SCRATCH TEST. Scratch away a small amount of the bark, approximately one inch up from the base of the plant. If the plant tissue underneath is white or green - it is alive; if it is brown or black - it is dead. Follow the guarantee procedure on the front cover to receive a replacement.

PLANT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE - For best results, plant right away, however before you do thaw them out gradually in the packing they arrived in if the plants arrive frozen. Soak the roots of the bare root woody plants in cool water overnight to help them break dormancy. Non-woody bare root plants should NOT be soaked. When immediate planting is not possible, store bulbs and perennials in a cool, dry, dark place such as an unheated garage or basement. Perennials should have their roots lightly moistened. Heel in trees and shrubs (see below). These measures are all temporary and proper planting should be done as soon as possible.

WATER, MULCH AND CULTIVATE - Proper care of your new plants is very important. New plants can be very tender and require additional care until they are established. View the section, "After You Plant" below for more specific details and make sure your plants receive adequate water.

BE PATIENT AND ENJOY! - Your gardening adventure is just beginning. Allow your plants 6 weeks to become acclimated to their surroundings and begin to thrive before implementing your warranty. Take proper care and sit back and enjoy your new plants!

Preparing the Ground for Planting

The soil where you will be planting should be loose and of good quality. Dig the hole and work in some Peat Moss, manure, humus, or leaf-mold with the existing soil. This will add organic matter. If your soil contains high amounts of sand or clay, you will want to add some good black topsoil in addition to the organic matter. A good rule of thumb is 1/3 original soil, 1/3 organic matter and 1/3 topsoil, if the original soil is not of good quality.

To ensure adequate room make the hole 2 times the width and depth of the root system you are working with. Potted plants should have 6 to 8" of space around them. When holes are dug in sod for trees or shrubs, work up 2 or 3' around the plant and keep this cultivated or mulched for good plant growth. The 7-8" of soil at the bottom of the hole should be loose so the roots have plenty of good soft soil to take hold in. Planting depth should be at the same level as they were grown in the nursery. Look for the old soil line on the plant. You would want the hole to be deep enough to keep the original soil line. If you are not able to see the soil line, or you are dealing with non-woody plants, the top of the root system should be just below the soil surface (this information is general; some plants may require more specific depths). DO NOT FERTILIZE NEWLY SET MATERIAL. (Potting soil contains fertilizer and is harmful to bare root trees - DO NOT use!)

Heeling In Trees and Shrubs

If you cannot plant nursery stock soon after it is received, it is best to "heel" it in someplace where it will have protection from the sun and wind. This temporary planting will help retard development. Remove all packing material and grass that might harbor mice or insects. Spread out the roots as you would in a permanent planting situation and fill in with pulverized earth and set firmly. Be sure to keep the earth moist until you are ready to plant permanently.

Is My Woody Plant or Tree Alive?

If in doubt, do a scratch test. Scratch away a small amount of the bark, approximately one inch up from the base of the plant. If the plant tissue underneath is white or green - it is alive; if it isbrown or black - it is dead. Follow the guarantee procedure on the front cover to receive a replacement.

Spring & Summer Planting

SPRING SHIPPING begins in March to the warmest climates and progresses North as the weather warms. Until April we only ship dormant plants, then we begin shipping potted items and tender perennials as the weather warms up.

The plants we ship, other than the potted items, throughout the spring and summer are sent dormant. They can be planted even if your area is still at risk for frost. Potted items should NOT be planted until there is no longer a risk for frost.

IF THE GROUND IS STILL FROZEN when your plants arrive, open the package and place them in a cool (preferably dark) location, such as an unheated garage or basement. Keep the rootstock moist, but not wet by misting them with a spray bottle. This will protect them from the elements, but will keep them cool enough to remain dormant until you get the chance to plant.

IF YOU THINK IT IS TOO HOT when your plants arrive, plant them anyway. Some people think if their order arrives late in the spring or into the summer when the temperatures are already hot that it is too late to plant. This is incorrect. When dealing with bare root, dormant plants they can be planted in the heat of the summer. It is important to simply provide enough water to the newly set material. Do not allow newly set plants and trees to dry out after planting. Likewise, spring-blooming bulbs can be planted as usual, even if it's hot outside.

DO NOT FERTILIZE any bare root items until the second year, which is when the feeding roots will be established. In addition, bare root items are too sensitive to be fertilized the first year. Fertilizing too soon could actually cause harm to the root system and possibly kill the plant. If you want to use something the first year, root stimulator could be used.

Fall Planting & Winter Storage


The items we ship in the fall are dormant and can be planted until the ground is frozen. Unless you cannot physically dig a hole in the ground, the item can be planted. ALL plant material shipped in the fall can be planted as long as you can dig the hole no matter how cold it is outside.

They will not, however, come out of dormancy within 6 weeks as they would if planted in the spring or summer. Instead, wait until your other plants begin to leaf the next spring. If at that time, the items you planted in the fall do not leaf out, they may not have survived. In this event, send your shipping label for a replacement, (see the guarantee that was sent with your plants).

WINTER STORAGE - If you do not wish to plant items which arrive late in the season, you may store them for the winter. Store NURSERY STOCK - The best place to store your nursery stock for the winter is outside in the ground, simply heel them all into one hole.  If you cannot physically dig a hole because the ground is frozen solid, then you can use a well drained container with soil or sawdust NOT potting soil).  Place them in an area where they will receive sun, snow, rain etc...  Plant outdoors as soon as the ground is workable in early spring.  Store BULBS in a frost-free refrigerator. Remove them from the plastic bags, put them in a container covered in sawdust, sphagnum moss or finely shredded newspapers, then place in the refrigerator. Do not store near fruit and do not allow to freeze. Plant outdoors as soon as the ground is workable in early spring. For other PERENNIALS, store them in the refrigerator the way they come from us. If mold develops simply remove them from their wrappers, wipe away the mold, place them in newspaper or other toweling and return to the refrigerator. Plant as soon as the ground can be worked.

Planting Bareroot Trees and Shrubs

After preparing the planting site as instructed in the section "Preparing the Ground for Planting" remove whatever packing material was used from around the plant. Prune any broken or damaged roots. Spread the root system, of the tree or shrub, naturally and work soil over and around the roots. Set trees one or two inches deeper than they stood in the nursery and set shrubs at about the same depth they stood in the nursery or slightly deeper. Look for the dark soil ring around the trunk. Keep putting in the good dirt mixture, slightly compacting it firmly around the roots, until the hole is nearly full. Fill the hole with water and once the water has soaked into the ground, complete filling the hole with loose dirt leaving a saucer-like depression to retain water. It is best to cover the area with 2" of mulch. DO NOT FERTILIZE until the second year when feeding roots have been established. Fertilizing before can damage tender young roots or kill the plant.  Doing so does void the warranty.

Water two or three times per week throughout the first year, except in the winter when watering should only be done when the ground is thawed. (This is a guideline, depending on the weather in your area; you may need to water more or less often.  Do not let the roots dry out.)

Most shrubs should be thinned out at the top to remove old wood. Cut tops back about 1/3 to 1/2.