Thread: Keeping trees alive until planted

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  1. #1

    Keeping trees alive until planted

    Hello all. I am new to the forum. I recently ordered several trees from I received some of them and have a question about keeping them in good condition until I plant them this weekend. I took them out of the box and packaging and have them sitting in a bucket of water deep enough to cover all of the roots of each tree starter. Not that it would matter, but they are a fragrant lilac, smoketree, hybrid poplar and red maple.

    I was just curious if I should just keep the roots moist by keeping them wrapped with a wet towel or cloth or if keeping them in water is OK. I didn't want to kill them by keeping them submerged if that is not a good thing to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    Dave G.

  2. #2

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    Get 'em out of the water--NOW!

    You should have just left them in their packaging--that will hold them for a good, long time (certainly several days). Try to recreate that packaging as much as possible: A big wad of wet, shredded newspaper wrapped around the roots and then covered in cellophane wrap with a twist tie or string holding the wrap on. Don't wrap the trunks of the saplings, only the roots. Then keep them in a cool, dark space until you're ready to plant. This should hold them until the weekend.

  3. #3

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    OK. That's why I figured I'd ask. I do that as soon as I get home tonight. I do have them in my unfinished basement where it is quite cool and only one small window.

  4. #4

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    OK. I came home and saved my trees from drowning. LOL! The newspaper wrapping around the roots didn't seem to work too well, so I opted to use some old T-shirt scraps. I wrapped them around the roots, soaked it well with water and put that in a used bread bag and used a few zip ties to close it up to prevent evaporation. Hopefully that will keep the roots nice and moist until the weekend when I can get them planted.

    Thanks for the input.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Waco, Tx

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    For pine seedlings, the recommendation was no more than 4 hours submerged in water. Probably a good general recommendation.
    For long time storage, more than 3-5 days, a good method is to heel them in : dig hole/trench and cover the roots with light soil or mulch and keep moist.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    hi there, i recieved an order of 20 pine scotch seedlings march 26th from a catalog order. i live in northern maine where we are now just seeing the last of the snow melt but the ground is still frozen, you might be able to get down 4 inches but that its. i've planted my trees in containers until i can get them in but am seeing some aren't doing well. the needles are drying up & yellowing. call me stupid but could this be expected since they're trying to root themselves or are the dying??? thanks!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Waco, Tx

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    With pines, there's a delay of a week or so between root damage and the needles withering. Might be more if weather is still cold. Perhaps the roots dried or froze at some point. Whatever, it happened over a couple of weeks ago and you're just now seeing it. I lost 5 Va. Pines from an order this year, just potted, but think I let them get too dry. Have much better luck with potted trees in the mail, no matter how small the pot.

  8. #8

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    Heather, I'd be rather ticked off at the company that sold you the saplings: They're supposed to hold off shipping until your region is ready to receive. They're human and can make mistakes, but it sounds like this was a severe booboo. I got a shipment from one company that I like doing business with around the same time as you did, but I'm several hundred miles south of you (Zone 6) and, even then, I had to give them multiple reassurances that I was comfortable with the early ship date--they were quite reluctant. I got another shipment just last week from a different company (it was a long weekend!).

    It's not clear from your post how viable the saplings still are, but I'd give the vendor a call and grumble at them and give them an opportunity to make things right.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    thanks for your response. the trees came bare root. and they had stated via mail in jan. that shipping would start between march 26- april 28, well i got those trees the 28th of march. i did call customer service to verify that they would compensate me with new trees if these croaked. the lady on the other end wasn't that pleasant. when i explained to her we had 4 ft. of snow on the ground & where i lived there was an extended silence on the phone, like "so??" i won't do business with them again. since my post some of them are really crispy & yellow!! AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    RE: Keeping trees alive until planted

    Scotch pine might also be invasive in your area. Worth checking on.

    If the needles are browning out though it's probably too late to save these. I haven't found there to be much room for error or delays in planting when it comes to bare root evergreens.

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