|CARE OF NEWLY PLANTED
SHRUBS, PERENNIALS AND TREES
SHRUBS AND PERENNIALS
Shrubs and perennials should be watered weekly or twice weekly during hot, dry, windy weather. This applies
especially to new plantings. Established plantings may only need watering during dry or stressful weather.
Watering needs to be done slowly and deeply to soak into the soil. This may be done by laying a hose by the base of
each plant with a small stream the diameter of a pencil for 15 to 20 minutes (approx. 5 gallons). If this is not practical
than a soaker hose or an overhead sprinkler left on long enough to apply 1 inch of water is adequate. You can
determine this by setting a container in the area to measure how much water you've applied.
Watering should continue in the fall until freeze up, usually late November, keeping in mind that with lower soil
temperatures, plants will not dry out as quickly.
Trimming and Maintenance
Trimming should be done at least annually. Although any time of year will work, ideally spring blooming shrubs should
be trimmed immediately after blooming, usually early June. All other shrubs should be trimmed as needed.
Perennials should have the dead growth removed in early Spring before new growth appears. Deadheading or
removal of spent flower stalks on perennials can be rewarded by increased numbers of blossoms as the season
progresses. Division and transplanting of perennials should be done in March/April or August/September, usually
opposite the bloom time.
The most important requirement for newly planted trees is an adequate supply of moisture. During dry weather, trees
need to be watered about every 7 to 10 days. (Soil type and weather conditions determine the actual watering
frequency.) Water trees slowly, but deeply (approx 10 gallons). Continue to water until the ground freezes in winter.
To help conserve moisture, place 2 to 4 inches of mulch around trees. Mulches also help control weeds, moderate soil
temperatures, and reduce the risk of mechanical injury to tree trunks from errant lawn mowers and string-trimmers.
Fertilization and Pruning
It is generally not necessary to fertilize newly planted trees. Most Iowa soils can supply sufficient amounts of nutrients
during establishment. Fertilize trees 2 to 3 years after planting if they are growing poorly or possess light green foliage.
Trees utilize sugars and other carbohydrates manufactured by the foliage for plant growth. Therefore, avoid the
temptation to severely prune trees to compensate for root loss during transplanting. Severe pruning of newly planted
trees educes their ability to manufacture food and actually slows plant growth. Newly planted trees require only
corrective pruning. Retain most of the lower branches. These lower branches help stabilize the tree and its foliage
manufactures food for the growing tree. Gradually remove the lower limbs as the tree grows during the first 10 to 15
Staking and Wrapping
Staking of most newly planted trees is unnecessary. However, top-heavy trees and those planted in windy, exposed
areas may require staking. If staking is necessary, allow the trunk to move or sway for proper trunk and root
development. Remove the stakes as soon as possible.
Young trees with tender bark (crabs, lilacs, willows) should be wrapped in winter to protect them from rabbit, mice, and
deer damage. It should be place around the tree in November and removed in April.