By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Did you know that this is the time to plant trees? Most of the trees sold in our area are container-grown which are grown in the container in which they are sold. In the fall, a containerized tree has started going dormant for the winter. With cooler temperatures and better rainfall, there is less stress, so it will hardly know that it has been transplanted into the ground.
They may also have a “container habit” which means that the roots are contained in a limited space and may be tightly coiled together in the container. Some of the larger roots may have coiled back around the trunk, known as root strangulation or girdling root.
To break the container habit spread the roots when planting. This will encourage the new roots to grow where they need to be for a healthy tree.
Choose plants with a good natural shape and is free of visible insects and disease. Make sure the root ball is solid and the bark has no breaks. Avoid trees if the roots are circling on the surface or growing out of the drainage holes. Generally, smaller trees cost less and may establish faster. Once established, they will also need less maintenance.
The planting hole will be your root systems growing environment. It should be twice as wide in diameter and no deeper than the soil ball. Backfill the hole with native soil.
Almost all fruit trees require full sun for best production. Don’t plant in shady locations that don’t get at least half a day of full sun or you can expect weak, spindly trees, poor foliage, and poor fruit set.
All trees need frequent watering from the time they are planted until they are well rooted, which may take two growing seasons. Once established, water efficient trees can be weaned to tolerate less watering. Proper weaning develops deep roots and enables the plants to better survive a drought.
Call your local AgriLife Extension Office to get a list of recommended trees for the Permian Basin.