Industry News: Tree Care Tips (Pruning, Water, and More)

Q: How old are 5-6' emerald green arborvitae trees?

Thursday, June 16, 2016  

Q: I live in northern Iowa, in zone 5, ZIP Code 50401. I have a couple of questions: how old are our new 5-6' emerald green arborvitae trees? They are newly planted--should we fertilize? The trees were planted in soil that has a lot of clay in it. It's wet but drains well. Was this a bad location?

A: 5-6' tall arborvitae are typically 5-7 years old. It is never recommended that you fertilize a brand new transplant. The reason is two-fold: the plants have sufficient reserves to acclimate and thrive in their new home; second, fertilizers have salts that will harm roots that are already upset with the planting process, so it is counterproductive to fertilize until at least year two. All soils have positives, and clay is a good soil for planting. The key to growing arborvitae is to ensure drainage. Arborvitae like water, often growing naturally in swampy areas, but do not like wet feet. In other words, they will enjoy an area slightly up slope from the lowest, wettest location. You'll recognize limp foliage as an indicator of "too wet" soil. If you notice such, move right away to rescue the plant before it smothers. Great choice of plants! Enjoy the view.

Responder: David Jahn, RCA #425, Des Moines, IA