What are newly planted trees and plants without water? Standing firewood. Not a particularly catchy opening but hear me out! Water availability is a newly transplanted tree’s greatest need, particularly in its first summer after planting. The same holds true for woody landscape plants as well. Moving a tree or shrub and transplanting it NEVER happens in nature!!! What’s more, the size of the spread of the root system is almost always much greater than the spread of the limbs unless they’re container grown. So the ability to move a whole tree is almost impossible to do without damaging the root system. Also most transplanted trees will not really grow ABOVE GROUND in their first year and very little in their second year.
The old timers had a saying for when you transplanted a tree to help you understand why to be patient. It goes: The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they LEAP!
Here’s why. Think about an acorn lying on the ground. As it starts to grow, the first thing it does is produce a root that looks to grow down into the ground to anchor the acorn into the soil. That gives it the stability to begin its battle against gravity and grow towards the heavens. ! Next it produces tiny hair sized soft tissue absorption roots to start capturing water and oxygen from the pore spaces in the soil. Once it has done this and obtains water it is able to inflate and supply the first shoots that come up searching for the sunlight. Depending on the regular availability of water the new leaves will start to produce sugars and starch that will be used as fuel to guide growth. The acorn will have enough moisture in it to get to this point and now is where the water of love comes in. Water is literally the lifeblood of tree growth. It’s the medium that allows the dissolved nutrients to be carried to the leaves where the magic of photosynthesis begins to happen. It’s also the medium that carries the newly produced energy back to the roots and shoot tips to fuel the new growth. Without the availability of water, none of this can happen.
So if you had trees or a new landscape installed over the winter, here’s one more concern you have if you vacation for an extended period that summer.
These plants need to be watered a bare minimum at least twice a week, more for larger plants and trees or excess heat.. Ideally you water in the morning which makes the water available for the coming work day. The trees respirate the water through their leaves as they begin their work of production. Without the water present, the plants shut down the respiration and for transplanted trees, this can mean death! The trees are very active in the presence of water but close for siesta in the hottest parts of the day in summer. So add watering your trees in the morning to your morning routine and you’ll steward your trees into being self-sufficient within 2-3 growing seasons. Educate yourself about your trees needs by species and you’ll be on your way to becoming a true tree Steward! You can overdo it on the watering but just use common sense as far as that goes. Stay tuned, I’ll go more into depth on the value of roots in our next newsletter. What’s above ground is a reflection of the health of roots, not the other way around! Protect and water the roots and your trees and plants will thrive!
It’s looking up for urban trees!