Shade Tolerant Shrubs

Shade Tolerant Shrubs

Part of Ep. 204 Container and Shade Gardening

Learn the correct planting methods as UW-Extension horticulturist Astrid Newenhouse plants a shade tolerant virburnum.

Premiere date: May 31, 1994

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
This is a viburnum. It's a shade tolerant shrub. It's a great choice for a woodland border. This particular variety is called Mohican. And, I'm with University of Wisconsin-Extension horticulturist, Astrid Newenhouse. Together, we're going to show you how to properly plant this. This is a balled and burlapped, or B&B shrub. By that I'm talking about the root ball has been wrapped in burlap. It makes it easier to transport and to plant. A couple of tips. Don't carry it by the trunk or by the stems. You can actually injure or damage the tree. If you need to carry it and it's heavy or if you're planting by yourself, put it on a tarp and just pull it gently to wherever you're going to plant it. Now we've got a hole here, Astrid, that you've already done. Thank you. And, what are you doing now?

Astrid:
I'm loosening the soil at the base of the hole because when I dug the hole, I compacted it a little bit.

Shelley:
And it looks like you've done that along the sides just to break it up just a little bit.

Astrid:
Right, break it up on the sides.

Shelley:
OK, now this hole looks a lot wider than the actual root ball.

Astrid:
It's a foot wider all the way around.

Shelley:
That's just to give the roots room. What about depth?

Astrid:
That's what I'm measuring right now. Using the handle of the shovel as a guide, like a level.

Shelley:
Oh, this saves us from putting the shrub in and out too many times.

Astrid:
Right, and then this is where the shrub would be planted. It comes to right about there which is perfect. We want it to be exactly the same depth as the root ball.

Shelley:
So the same depth as it was growing in the nursery. Too high or too low is bad.

Astrid:
Yes, right, slow root development and perhaps even kill the shrub.

Shelley:
Alright, now we move it without using our back. Use our knees.

Astrid:
Lift it in. Now do you want to hold it steady while I add soil.

Shelley:
Yeah, it's crooked. Looks like you need some over here, on this side.

Astrid:
And the soil I'm adding is exactly the same soil that I took out of the hole so there's no amendments--

Shelley:
So, there's nothing special in it.

Astrid:
No manure, no compost, no amendments of any kind.

Shelley:
Why?

Astrid:
If we made the soil too rich, then the roots wouldn't ever leave that area. We want the roots to excavate a large area.

Shelley:
So, we don't want to make it too easy for it. Well, it came with these packages of pre-measured fertilizer. Now these are the only things that we can really add into this kind of hole. They're pre-measured. The plastic will break down. We don't measure it. We just toss them in and it slowly fertilizes. OK, and for one this size, we get two.

Astrid:
One on each side. Then you would cover this with soil. We would add soil to about half the depth of the hole. And, we would tamp it down with our fist, like this or with a handle of the shovel like so.

Shelley:
Can I use my foot?

Astrid:
I wouldn't. That would compact the soil too much and it might damage the roots.

Shelley:
OK, what about the burlap here?

Astrid:
Well, the next step is to fold back the burlap. We're not going to remove it completely. That protects the root ball.

Shelley:
So we leave it in the hole. Why are we folding it back, then?

Astrid:
Well, you want to fold it back because if any part of the burlap sticks up, it's exposed above the soil surface. That acts like a wick and it draws moisture away.

Shelley:
Oh, so it's actually going to pull it away from the roots. So we gently do that.

Astrid:
Gently fold it back.

Shelley:
Now what I've heard also is before you fill up the hole entirely with soil, that you can add water in here and that also helps get rid of air pockets that might have happened around the soil.

Astrid:
Yes, that's a very good idea.

Shelley:
Well let's take a look at one we've already finished. Now here we've got it planted. We've taken the string off and let it brush out.

Astrid:
Oh, this is nice. You've added a moat. This is just perfect. This moat will keep the moisture right in the root zone.

Shelley:
Instead of running down the hill or some place. What else would you do at this point?

Astrid:
On top of this I would add two to three inches of mulch.

Shelley:
And then would we be done?

Astrid:
Well, the last thing I would do is look for any branches that have been broken or damaged in transport.

Shelley:
Now this looks like it was snapped right off here.

Astrid:
Yeah, and just prune off the damaged branch.

Shelley:
Would you do any other pruning?

Astrid:
No, none at all.

Shelley:
So just anything that's injured. Is there a good or bad time of year to plant a balled and burlapped shrub?

Astrid:
Spring is a great time. Early fall is a good time. Summer is OK if you baby the plant.

Shelley:
Meaning lots of moisture.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
OK, thanks, Astrid.

Astrid:
You're welcome.

Shelley:
And remember, lots of moisture means one inch of water per week during the entire growing season.

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