Planting trees in your landscape

by Dr. William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County and
Patricia Cooke, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Master Gardener

New trees are a long-term investment. They form the framework for your landscape. Hernando County is in USDA’s hardiness zone 9. Choose varieties of Florida Friendly or native plants that are suited to grow in west central Florida. Ask questions and read plant labels. UF/IFAS has a central Florida tree list with links for details about a number of varieties and site selection criteria. Go to:

When planting container-grown trees and shrubs in your landscape, follow a few basic guidelines to minimize stress to the plants. Dig a hole so the plant will be no deeper in the soil than it grew in the container. One of the most common causes of tree death a few years down the road is planting them too deep initially. Do not disturb the soil below the area where the root ball will be placed. Compacting of loose soil under the root ball of the plant will cause it to sink over time. Create a hole twice as wide as the pot, but not twice as deep.

Sometimes the roots of container grown plants begin to circle within the pot. Encourage roots to grow outward by carefully repositioning them to point away from the trunk. A circling root that cannot be redirected should be pruned.

Replace backfill soil, but do not put it over the root ball. Create a raised layer of soil at the edge of the planting hole to create a saucer effect. When you irrigate the plant, the water will remain where it can be taken up by the plant’s roots. Apply a small amount of slow-release fertilizer across the top edge of the root ball and the backfill soil. Do not put fertilizer in the bottom of the planting hole. Place a layer of mulch over the soil on either side of the root ball. Do not mulch above the root ball.

January 14, 2017, the Extension office will conduct its annual Florida Arbor Day Tree Workshop and free tree giveaway at the Master Gardener Nursery (19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville) with our Hernando County Forester Nicole Howard. Participants will attend a brief workshop on how to properly plant and care for trees, and everyone will go home with several free trees to plant in their landscape! No registration is required, the class and trees are totally free- just be at the nursery by 9:00 AM.

All newly planted trees need care, including irrigation, until they become established; but after that, they rarely need anything more than natural rainfall. A key principle of Florida-Friendly landscaping is to put the right plant in the right place. With careful site selection, planting and attention your new tree will provide years of pleasure and enhance the value of your property.

For more information about the care of newly planted trees, shrubs or other plants call or stop by our office (352-754-4433) 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, 34604, weekdays from 8 to 5; or the Master Gardener nursery at 19490 Oliver Street (behind the Hernando County fairgrounds). The nursery is open from 9 to noon Wednesdays and the first Saturday of each month.