FAQs

The Questions We Get Asked Most

We get asked a lot of questions and with over 40 years of knowledge we are proud to share what we know. Here are the questions our customers ask most. If you have a question not answered below, please Contact Us and we will be happy to answer.

We sell plants in both pots and wire baskets.

Potted plants are typically grown in pots throughout their life, being “potted up” (transplanted from a smaller pot to a larger pot) as they grow.  A special soil mixture is used to provide proper drainage, nutrients and a lighter weight pot for easier portability.  Potted plants require daily monitoring for moisture content before planting.  Growing trees in pots is a controlled environment where nutrients and water supply is controlled to accelerate the growth rate. As plants do not normally grow in a confined space, circulating roots may be an issue at time of planting.  Potted plants may be planted at any time during the growing season.  Ensure to remove all plastic pots before planting.

Wire Basket trees are grown from seedlings, whips or younger potted trees to caliper trees in the field. Once planted in the field, these trees are watered frequently until they have rooted in (one to two years).  Regular pruning is required to ensure good form and weed maintenance is undertaken to provide a clean environment. Harvesting of deciduous trees can typically begin after five years in the field (species dependent). Harvesting of coniferous trees can typically begin after ten years in the field (species dependent).

Field grown trees can only be harvested in the spring or fall when the trees are not actively growing.  Harvesting is done by cutting the roots of the trees with the appropriate sized tree spade and placing the tree inside a wire basket lined with burlap. The rule of thumb is 1” of caliper to 10” of roots (spade width).  As these baskets are filled with topsoil they will weigh between 300-1000lb depending on the basket size and moisture content of the soil.  Once trees are harvested they can be planted anytime during that growing season, by placing it directly into a hole – no need to remove the wire basket. 

Check out our Planting Instructions for more information on planting.

You can plant perennials, shrubs and trees (whether in wire basket or pot) anytime you can dig in the soil – from early spring through to freeze-up in fall.  (see transplanting question for planting existing plant material).

It is important to check on your new plantings frequently. Topping up settled soil and staking are all maintenance items that may need to be addressed. Watering needs to be monitored regularly to ensure the plant is not over watered or dried out.  Frequency of watering depends upon subgrade and soil conditions as well as the weather.

The best time to plant is when you are home to monitor your plant material not when you are planning to leave for a weekend or vacation.

Many perennials benefit from splitting to produce the desired shape, foliage and flowering. The best time to do this depends on the specific plant but is typically best done in early spring or fall. A general rule is to never transplant when the perennial is in bloom.

Shrubs and trees should typically only be moved when dormant, in early spring or fall.   However, if the shrub or tree has only been in a location for one or two growing seasons the root structure may not be fully developed so the plant may be moved throughout the summer.  We recommend using an oversized tree spade when you have to transplant during the summer

This is why we only offer Tree Moving Services in very specific windows of time for different types of trees. If you are interested in moving an established tree, please contact us for more information.

Check out our Planting Instructions for step-by-step instructions on planting, including digging the hole.

This answer will vary greatly depending on the soil conditions in which you are planting. All plants benefit from nutritious soil and most plants require good drainage. The majority of plants will struggle when planted in a high-clay area. Unfortunately, most new subdivisions (the last 15+ years) have compacted clay rough grade with only a 6” top layer of soil.

If you are digging into well drained soil, we recommend digging a hole 1.5-2 times wider than the pot or root ball, leaving room to backfill around the roots with a nutritious soil or compost mix.

If you are digging into clay, we recommend digging a hole 2-2.5 times wider than the pot and creating a drainage ring around a mound of clay for the plant to sit on, then backfilling with high quality soil/compost. If you’re having a hard time picturing this, head over to our Planting Instructions.

But for any plant, a bigger hole will never hurt, so if in doubt – go bigger!

This is likely our most commonly asked question and is talked about in our Planting Instructions.

If your plant is still in the pot, it should be watered daily – even if it rains. Ensure that the pot can drain freely.  Do not leave it sitting in standing water for more than 30 minutes to prevent drowning.

If it is planted, there is no magic formula for how much to water. It will vary based on the type of plant, size of plant, weather conditions, location etc. Your plant will wilt if it is too wet or too dry, so it is important to check the soil before watering.

Newly planted plants benefit from deep soaking during the first year to encourage deep root production: Turn the hose on low, place it close to the base of the plant and allow water to soak into the root area over an extended period of time (5-20 minutes, depending on size).  Let the surface dry completely before watering again.

To determine your plant’s water needs, dig a hole 12” deep, just outside the root ball. If the soil is crumbly, it is time to water. If it feels wet and muddy, give your plant more time to dry out before watering again.

All plants benefit from a deep watering right before freeze-up.  This creates an ice ball around the roots.

If you are unsure about watering or moisture needs, please contact the nursery.

All plants, but especially newly planted ones, will benefit from a deep watering right before freeze-up. This creates an ice ball around the roots to provide moisture when the ground thaws. This is called “watering in” and can help your plants avoid lack of water during the winter period.

If there are periods of warm weather and thawing throughout the winter, we recommend giving your trees additional water to keep that ice ball built up around the roots.

Filter fabric (landscape fabric) is a common choice for controlling weeds in decorative gardens. It can be a very effective choice in rock gardens. However, we do not recommend using it under wood mulch. Wood mulch will decompose over time into a layer of soil which will end up growing weeds – above the fabric!

If you do choose to use filter fabric in your rock garden, ensure it is not covering the area under the drip line of the plant. Covering the roots with filter fabric inhibits their ability to breathe and can cause the plant to become stressed.

Putting filter fabric over the roots will result in voided warranty if your plant does not survive.

In most landscaping applications, mulch is a decorative and moisture retaining layer spread over the soil between the plants. It is typically made from shredded or chipped bark or wood, or more recently from rubber – often from recycled tires.

In gardening applications, any sort of organic material spread around or over a plant (decaying leaves, grass clippings, compost, bark, straw etc) for the purpose of enriching or insulating the soil is considered mulch.

All plants grow at different rates, even within the same cultivar, so age cannot be determined accurately based just on size. The same tree may grow 8 inches one year, and only 3 inches the next – the only way to tell the age of a tree with certainty is to cut it down and count the rings.

To maintain consistency in price and quality, we sell our trees by size, not age – based on the pot size (root ball) when they are younger, and by caliper size for deciduous trees, or height for evergreens, when they are more established.

Caliper can refer to two things in the tree world:

1. Unit of measurement : The most common way to measure a wire basket deciduous tree is by the caliper, which is the diameter of the trunk measured 6 inches above the base of the tree. The caliper of the tree may be expressed in inches or millimetres. 

2. Measuring tool : A tree caliper is a special tool (caliper) used to measure the caliper (diameter) of a tree’s trunk.

Caliper measurements are typically used to identify the size requirements of a deciduous tree for a landscaping plan or architectural guidelines for new builds.  Evergreens are measured by height.

There are a few common reasons why you may not find the specific plant you’re looking for:

1. We have another plant that is virtually identical.

We do our best to have a wide range of sizes and colors of the available varieties that exist. However, we like to keep things somewhat simple in this regard and won’t bring in another variety that is virtually indistinguishable from another we already carry. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, contact us – we likely have a very similar plant you could substitute.

2. It is a new cultivar

We pride ourselves on carrying plants that have been tested in our climate. Before introducing a new cultivar for our customers, we like to test them to see how they fare against our cold climate. If we do not stock a new cultivar, we either haven’t tested it enough to have confidence it will survive, or we have found it did not do well enough for us to sell.

3. It doesn’t survive in our climate

We will not sell plants that do not survive here, and we identify this based on our experience and testing, not on the labeled Zone.

4. It is a discontinued cultivar

There are constantly new varieties of plants being grown with better color, growth, disease resistance, drought tolerance etc. When identical-looking plants get replaced with a “better” version, the original often stops being grown. This may also happen if a specific cultivar has proven to be problematic and does not have a reasonable success rate for growers. 

When planting, backfill with nutrient rich soil or high-quality compost.  We recommend applying Myke to the roots or adding a root-booster fertilizer when planting – but don’t do both in the first year! Fertilizer will kill the Myke.  After planting, regular, deep root watering will encourage the roots to grow down and out.

For the next two growing seasons we recommend applying a root boosting fertilizer (high middle number, such as 10-52-10) to encourage further root development.

Newly planted trees focus their energy on root development to gain stability and reach the water and nutrients they need to be healthy. Giving your tree adequate water and nutrients for strong root development will establish the roots more quickly, and allow the tree to re-focus on leaves, flowers and fruit once a strong root system is in place.  This may take up two to three years depending upon the size of the tree and the species.

The size/height and number of stakes you need will depend on the size of tree, and how windy the location is.

Once you have the correct stake(s) for your tree and conditions, follow these steps:

1. Drive the First Stake 1-2ft deep about 3 feet away into undisturbed soil on the windiest side of the tree.

2. Attach the Tree to the stake using wire threaded through a rubber hose, creating a loop around the stake and tree – smaller trees may be fine with pantyhose or another soft material.

TIP : Make sure the wire is taut, but still has some slack so the tree can still move and grow on its own. If the wire and hose are too tight, it will girdle your tree and impede growth.

3. If Using a Second Stake, place it directly opposite the first stake. Extremely windy locations may require 3 stakes, placed in a triangle.

4. Ensure the Tree is Straight in all directions.

Check your tree often for signs of the hose cutting into the tree, movement in the root ball, or falling over stakes. You may need to relocate or drive the stake deeper, or an adjustment to the wire may be required.

Remember, DO NOT pound any stakes into the ground within 1 metre of any buried utility line.

If your plant was newly planted, it may be experiencing transplant stress or transplant shock. Otherwise, for information about the most common pest and disease problems in our area, check out our Plant Problems page. If you still have concerns about your plant, please Contact Us and one of our knowledgeable staff will help.

Transportation and planting can be stressful for plants and may cause transplant shock. The most common symptom of this is the leaves turning to autumn colours earlier than usual, or by dropping leaves. These are signs that your tree is feeling stressed and is focusing energy to root development or is going dormant to conserve energy.

There is rarely a need to be concerned about this – your tree is doing what it needs to, to stay strong and healthy. Keep an eye on it for the rest of the season and into spring, and make sure you’re watering adequately and providing it the nutrients it needs for strong root development.

If you are unsure what is happening to your tree please Contact Us and email us a picture.