Water New Trees & Flowers – Volume, Frequency & Best Tips


After transplanting trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials, into your landscape, watering will be first on your list of concerns.  Getting this right will solve the number 1 reason why plants do not survive transplanting.

How to water newly planted container or Ball and Burlap trees and shrubs?

Use one of the following methods  3X a week for the first month to water trees well:

Tree gators or horizontal tree watering bags are best used on rocky soil or established trees. The Tree I.V. is best used on newly planted trees where the soil is loose, and the setting casual.

soaker hose
Soaker Hose – Loop Around Plant base

If it is hot, you may need more.  Watering deeply and less frequently is far better than a little bit, often.  Check to see that the water is penetrating all the way down below the root ball.

How much water is enough for newly planted trees?  

Soak trees with at least 1-2 gallons of water per day per inch of trunk diameter, also known as caliper.  It is rare to overwater newly planted trees; so be generous. 

Build up a ‘moat’ of soil surrounding the outside of the newly planted root ball to concentrate the water soaking into the ground where it is needed rather than allowing the water to run off.  After the first season, the moat is not necessary

Do add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch (not touching the trunk) to keep the water in the ground for your tree rather than evaporating during the day.

How to check if your tree has been watered deep enough.

Depending on your soil make-up, different volumes of water are needed to penetrate down below the root ball.  Check to see with a water meter, or dig down outside the root ball using a soil probe to actually see how far down the soil is wet.  Soak the area until the water penetrates down below the root ball.  Slowly trickling the water in is best, so it will penetrate rather than draining off.

How long before a tree is established?

 A tree is established when its root system has grown enough to support the rest of the tree, usually without supplemental irrigation.  It takes about half a year for each inch of trunk diameter to establish.  The larger the tree is when you plant it, the longer it will take to establish.

How much to water newly planted shrubs?

Irrigate until the water has penetrated below the root system.  When planting shrubs, plan to irrigate with ½ the volume of water as the volume of pot they came in.  Water a 3-gallon shrub with 1 ½ gallon of water each time.  Depending on your soil make-up, different volumes of water are needed to penetrate down below the roots. 

Check with a water meter, or dig down outside the root zone to actually see how far down the soil is wet.  Soak the until the water penetrates down 12”. Use a soaker hose or a water wand head, so the water will penetrate rather than draining off.

The first week, water daily.  Week 2-4 water 3X a week.  Weeks 5-9 water 2X a week and then 1X a week for the remainder of the growing season.  If very hot, and/or limited rain, water more often.

Water Breaker on End Of Hose
Water Breaker on End Of Hose

How long does it take for shrubs to become established?

Shrubs take roughly 1 to 2 seasons to root in and establish.  Plan on a 1 Gal scrub to take a full season to become established.  A 3 Gal shrub to take 1 ½ years to become established, and a 7 Gal shrub to take about 2 years to become established.

How much to water newly planted annuals and perennials?

Water newly planted annuals and perennials the same volume as the containers they came in  For example 1 gallon plants will need 1 gallon of water at each watering.  You have used enough water when the soil is moist all the way down to under the plant’s root ball. 

Soak at least once a day, if hot, you may need to water more, for at least the first month. 

How to check if annuals and perennials have been watered deep enough.

Depending on your soil make-up, different volumes of water are needed to penetrate down below the roots.  Check with a water meter, or dig down outside the root zone with a probe to actually see how far down the soil is wet. 

Soak the root area until the water penetrates down 12”. Use a soaker hose or a water wand head, so the water will penetrate rather than draining off.

How long before annuals are established?

Annuals can be established in only a few weeks, however, they often require supplemental watering to perform the best.

How long until perennials are established?

Perennials are usually established within 1 growing season.

Providing enough water while a plant grows enough roots to support its top growth is vital for plants to thrive in your landscape.  Overwatering is rare when you move from containers to plant growing in the ground, so be generous!  You will be rewarded for your efforts.

https://youtu.be/Y5v-DkFb5pw

How to Water New Trees, Shrubs, etc. | Tomlinson Bomberger

Watering newly planted trees and shrubs | UMN Extension

Toni

Toni has a bachelor degree in Plant & Soil Science, has lived, gardened and growing all over the US, in Vermont, Tennessee, Idaho, coastal North Carolina and Virginia. She has been sharing her knowledge through writing, one on one consulting and talking to anyone who wants to listen at social gatherings everywhere : )

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