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McKay Nursery Company

Understanding Plant Types & Sizes

Sep 20, 2016 3:42:02 PM

Written by

McKay Staff

in Plant Care Landscaping Tips Plants


container planting

When it Ships

Plants are delivered during their dormant season, which for the majority is from late fall through the winter. Bare root deciduous trees & shrubs are shipped approximately October 10th to November 1st. Bare root peonys can ship early fall (approx. early September) and as soon as available. There are some other plants like bare root lilacs that will ship in spring. 


Keep in mind, these are normally planted when leaves have fallen (from fall to early spring). The roots of all bare root plant material late in the season (or any time of the year) should be soaked in water overnight (if at all possible) before planting. (If soaking overnight is not possible, at least soak the roots while you are installing them.) When planting make sure the hole is at least twice the width of the root-ball, and deep enough to take the roots without kinking them. If some roots are very long, trim them cleanly with pruning shears. Hold the plant in the hole in one hand and fill the hole, poking soil between the roots.

Quick Tip: You can make a slight mound in the center of the hole so that the roots can be spread out over it, keeping the crown high. Make sure the crown of the plant is not buried: if necessary, life the plant and push more soil in around the roots.


Immediately after planting, soak the soil around each bare root plant to get rid of any air pockets. Water the plants again the next day, and fill in around any plants where the soil has sunken. Pruning is also important and best done by thinning out any small or broken branches and reducing the number of stems that are on the plant. Bare-root plant material may need up to 6 weeks to properly leaf out. Water them as needed one to three times a week depending up on the soil you have. For sandy or lighter soils = more water. For heavy clay soils = don't over water.

Learn More: See our popular blog post on planting bare root or watch this easy step-by-step video on planting bare root





container planting

When it Ships

Trees, shrubs, daylilies, hostas and sedums in containers cans ship early fall (approx. early September). All other perennials must be shipped by October 7th, except trees & shrubs listed previously which can go all fall season. 


Remove the plant from the container. When the plant is removed from its pot, loosen the root-ball a little so that the roots can extend into the surrounding soil. It is essential that the planting hole is about twice the width of the container and approximately the same depth. The soil level around the plant should be exactly the same as it was in the container. 


Water upon delivery. Container grown plants are grown in a "soil-less" media which is designed to drain water as best as possible. For that reason, container plants will need water every day for the first week or so. Water container plants enough each day to saturate the root mass, but NOT necessarily the soil around the root mass. Again if sandy or lighter soils, you can water them more. After the first week or two, the roots will have started to grow into the soil you have planted them into and you can ease up on the frequency. For the second week, maybe water 3-5 times and the third week, probably once a week. Adjust your watering with the weather (hotter and drier = water more. If it rains an inch or more = skip one or two watering sessions).

Learn More: See our "how-to" video on planting container plants & the proper way to water. 





balled and burlap shrub planting

When it Ships

B&B Evergreens (including all sizes of... Colorado Blue and Green, Black Hills Spruce and Scotch Pine) ship from early September to early October. All B&B deciduous shade trees and shrubs ship approximately from mid September to mid October. B&B Sienna and Autumn blaze maples (need to color up prior to digging) approximately ship early October to early November depending on weather. These large sizes can only be shipped by McKay's delivery trucks within a 60-100 mile radius of Waterloo, WI due to their massive size and weight.


Immediately dig your hole, but make sure not to dig too deep. You want the base of the tree to be level with the ground. Place your B&B plant in the hole you dug, cut the rope around the burlap, bend back the wire and back-fill your soil around the plant.


Water upon delivery. B&B plants will need to be watered daily for the first week or so. Water B&B plants enough each day to saturate the root ball, but NOT the soils you have planted them into (place the tip of the hose near the neck of the plant). Then the roots will begin to grow through the burlap and into your soil you can ease up on the frequency. The second week, you will probably need to water 3-5 times and after that, probably once a week. Adjust your watering habits again depending upon the weather and your soil type. After the first growing season, most plants will need little additional water.



 General Overview Quick Tips on Planting & Watering all Plant Types

If you're ever unsure if you are watering enough or too much test the soil by placing your fingers near the base of the plant. Also, add shredded bark mulch around the plant to help regulate moisture levels (watch our popular YouTuve videos on shredded bark mulch vs. stone mulch and Watch our "how-to" video on basic watering techniques to make sure your plant is living a happy & healthy life.





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