30 Jul 2020

How to plant smarter

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:42 pm on 30 July 2020

Even though we’re in the middle of winter, now’s still a good time to plant trees.

There is good moisture in the soil Auckland Botanic Gardens curator, Rebecca Stanley, says.

Tree seedling.

Tree seedling. Photo: 123RF

“It’s really the right time to plant trees in terms of the climate, so we say to people plant trees as soon as it rains in autumn when the soil is still a little bit warm and there’s plenty of water around.

“But even now in winter, although the soil temperature has cooled down a little bit, there’s enough water around to help your tree get adjusted before summer.”

The tree needs to get good root growth to see it through the dryer months, she says.

“So, the most important thing about a tree is its roots and they get a bit of a shock when you plant them into the soil and the time required for them to adjust, for the roots to get adjusted to their new home, is all about setting it up for summer when potentially it could be very dry.”

Before planting, make sure the tree is not root bound, she says.

“It’s a critical time tree planting. Often, you’ll get a tree in a container and it’s root bound. When you pull it out of the pot you’ll see the roots are all spiralled around. That’s not good for a tree.

“Tease out the roots so they’re not growing around in a circle, which they will do for years in the ground until you realise the tree’s not very healthy.

“And when you dig it up or when it dies you can see the roots continued growing round in the circle.”

The first principle of tree planting is 'planting the right tree in the right place'.  

“You’re not really planting a tree just for you for now you’re really planting a tree that’s hopefully going to be alive in 200 years’ time.”

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)