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How do I plant a Autumn Blaze Maple?

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:13 pm
by frost71
Hi all,

I'm hoping I can get a little help in deciding what to do in order to give my new tree the best chances for success. I am going to plant an "Autumn Blaze Maple".

I live in a zone 3 climate (brrrrr) and we typically have about a foot of topsoil and then clay (Red River Gumbo). I am planning on planting it at the highest part of our yard, about two feet higher than the low part (gradual slope).

My questions are these:
1) How large of a hole should I dig?
2) Should I put something under and around the tree roots to help it get established quickly. Such as mulch, peat moss, rotting banana peals :D, etc.?
3) How often should I water? Particularly in the first few months.
4) Should I add any type of fertilizer to the soil? 30-30-30 or whatever?
5) What is the best time of year to plant?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:59 am
by MaineDesigner
Planting in clay is always challenging but maples tend to do better than many trees in these difficult conditions. Dig a hole just deep enough to bring the root flare/ top of the root ball to the level of the surrounding soil - no deeper. In any case make the width of the hole approximately triple the diameter of the root ball. Loosen the roots on the outer surface if it was a container grown tree, especially if you see circling roots. Just use the existing soil to backfill.
No one can tell you how much to water. Just stick a finger into the soil as deep as possible. If you haven't watered recently it should feel damp but not wet. Over watering is a legitimate risk with clay but you don't want to under water either.
Deciduous trees are more forgiving of planting times than evergreens. My first choice in cold climates is early spring, as soon as the frost is out of the ground, through May or early June. Fall can also be a good time. Unless necessity demands I would discourage the hottest and driest part of the summer. However, if you already have possession of the tree, especially if it is a B&B'd tree I would get it in the ground as soon as possible. It is almost always easier to keep plants alive and unstressed in the ground.
I would not fertilize this year and whatever you do don't use something as strong as 30-30-30.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:01 pm
by Jess
The only thing I would like to add to Maines excellent advice is that recent R.H.S. (Royal Horticultural Society) studies have shown that trees do better if planted in square holes. It encourages a proper root flare and stops girdling of the root system which can kill a tree up to 10 years after planting.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:35 pm
by frost71
Thank you both for your help. I feel better now about planting my first trees in my new home.

A square hole? Sounds weird but ok I'll do it.

Thanks again.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:21 pm
by Grey
I haven't heard of a square hole before either, but it makes sense. Wonder who had that idea one day?

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:12 pm
by Jess
Hi Grey :D Hows the veges?

Whoever it was probably got paid a lot of money to do research.

Keep an eye on the plants you purchase over the next few years too. The pots they are in may become more square in shape and also (finally) stop being black or brown in colour as someone else has come up with the bright idea that plants absorb more heat in dark coloured containers and it might actually be a good idea to put them in something that reflects heat. Wonder how much money they were paid to come up with that idea?