After reading the information you shared and seeing the video on planting from Dr. Howard:
1. I will dig up my Jane magnolia out of where it is. How wide a root ball should I dig up? Does it matter if we cut roots that have extended out from the original root ball?
2. Place the root ball in water for an hour (or should I do it for two?)
3. Should I make sure not all dirt comes of the roots, should I only work on the surface where suspected girdling roots may be formed? Should I work on the root ball after the soaking has taken place or is this not relevant? What would be best?
4. Meanwhile, we will make the hole wider and shallow as in the video. When we planted we just made in somewhat wider as in the directions of the nursery but not three times wider as Dr. Howard recommends.
5. Can I use the existing dirt in the area (containing the mushroom compost we placed in last November when we planted it). Should I remove it and get natural soil from the same garden?
6. After an hour soaking we will inspect the root flares. I am a bit unsure as to the root flares of such a young tree. Do they look like the ones of a mature tree, just smaller? How can I tell them apart from advantageous roots? If I cannot straighen some of the roots, should I cut them? How far?
7. Replant the tree in a way that it is one inch above the surface.
8. Reapply mulch around it, not close to the trunk.
9. Water again?
10. How often to water from then on?
We plan to do this Saturday, Lord willing. We will plan to take some pictures to show you.
I just saw your website!!! You must know so much about nature and the beauty of life God has created! I hope to read more!
My husband says I am overloading you
. I truly thank you for your time and kindness!
A tree planted that recently can be corrected, and it can be done in the heat if it is done right, but don't fool with it until you're sure you know what you want to do.
Here's the short course:
When a tree comes from a nursery in a black pot the dirt in the pot against the plastic has baked for months or years, and can be almost as hard as a ceramic. This can keep water from penetrating to reach the roots once it is in the ground if that isn't softened or removed. Further, a tree planted in a pot was usually in only a few inches of dirt, and at some point the nursery scooped a few more inches of dirt into the pot around the tree to make it look like it has lots of room and lots of roots. But that extra dirt can smother the tree. If you plant this tree from the pot with extra dirt level with the surrounding soil, you end up with a tree planted too deep in the ground and it looks like a straight pole coming out of the ground, like this:
If a tree is planted properly so the root flare (a part of the bole or trunk, NOT a part of the roots) is above ground, it looks like this:
(Root flare newsletter here
When you bring home a tree in a pot, you need to soak it for an hour or so (you don't want to drown a tree over a long time, but an hour or two is fine). This will loosen all of the soil around the roots. Meanwhile, you need to dig a hole that is shallow and wide, like in this tree planting newsletter
. Be sure to watch the video.
You can carefully knock much of the pot dirt off of the roots, and carefully unwind any that are wrapped around. If not straightened, those can become "girdling roots" or roots that are so tightly wrapped around the tree, from their placement in the pot, that as the tree grows larger the root strangles the bole.
So once you've soaked your tree and straightened the wrapped roots, carefully place the tree in the shallow hole and cover the roots with dirt (stake them down if needed) to keep them extended in the hole. When you have filled back the native dirt (no extra soil, no fertilizer or compost or potting soil or peat moss) you should fill it to the natural base of the tree, so the flare is flush or a little above the level of the dirt around the hole. It's in the video, this is just spelling it out some more.
So if you DIDN'T do this, but the tree has been in the ground for a while, then you can dig around the area where you planted it, carefully lift it out, straighten the roots, and make sure the hole that you replace it in isn't too deep and that it is wide enough to give the roots room. If you're not sure if you can do this when it is so hot, you might need to wait, as long as the tree doesn't get much worse than what you're seeing now.