When I looked up the definition for “transplant” I found the following: to move something to another place, typically with some effort or upheaval. This seemed like an appropriate thought that may apply to planting trees or moving people to new homes.

It brought me back to a time almost 40 years ago when I left New England for Oklahoma. The move involved saying goodbye to family and friends. But, more than that, it involved leaving behind known geography — trees, mountains, ocean waters and weather. It surprised me I would miss a place as much as people. Putting down root” did not come automatically. It took time, understanding and care to become healthy and happy.

Now let’s take a look at trees and how they are best transplanted. We are approaching the best time of year to plant trees, especially container grown trees. Here are some tips from Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service:

• Plant trees that have proven they grow well in Oklahoma (OSU Tree Planting Guide).

• Dig a hole two to three times the size of the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the root ball.

• Do not apply an amendment to the soil. Roots need to grow in the same soil they are surrounded by.

• Remove any burlap, container, all spring and wires from the trunk and root ball.

• If the roots are excessive and circling the container, score the outer edges, but do not cut deeply into the root ball.

• Fill the hole with native soil and tamp down lightly.

• Newly planted trees do not need fertilizer until they are well-established.

• They may need to be watered two to three times a week to equal about an inch of water each week. Water slowly. They may need a little more in the heat of summer.

• Mulch using organic mulch 2-4 inches deep and 5-6 feet around the tree. Keep mulch 2-4 inches away from the trunk.

• Stake a young tree sparingly for no more than a year. The trunk needs to be able to sway. Use a broad, smooth, elastic material around the trunk, connected to three posts placed evenly around the tree about 3 feet from the trunk.

My experience is that small trees adapt more quickly than large trees.

In time your tree will adapt to its new environment. Watch for signs of disease or insect damage. Just like people, trees may need medication to overcome some illnesses. And like people, they will thrive in a healthy environment.

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Ford is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.

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