Photo of live oak branch with Spanish moss hanging from it.

Celebrating Florida Arbor Day!

It’s January and that means we get to celebrate Florida Arbor Day!

Photograph of redbud tree dormant without leaves and full of small pinkish-purple flowers.

Redbud tree in bloom.

This event is held every year on the third Friday of January. This year you can mark your calendar for January 18, 2019!

Have you considered how or why trees in your landscape and even local community are important? Well, here are a few to ponder:
  • Trees help reduce soil erosion.
  • Trees produce food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Trees provide energy and cost saving if positioned correctly to lend shade during the summer and sunlight during the winter (with deciduous trees).
  • Trees reduce air pollution and improve our air quality.
  • Trees can increase property value.

While you consider these benefits, think about whether you could use another tree in your landscape and maybe just maintain those that already exist.

Remember to use Florida-Friendly Landscaping and follow the right plant, right place principle if you decide to add a new tree to your yard.

A few site conditions to consider when selecting any new plant for your landscape include: the amount of sunlight (full sun, part sun, shade), soil type (sand, organic, clay), soil pH, soil moisture (well drained, medium drained, wet), cold hardiness zone (9b in Polk County), and of course one that is often overlooked, how much space is available (important when looking at the plants fully grown, mature size).

Lastly, if you do decide to plant a new tree this Florida Arbor Day, make sure you plant it properly. One of the main causes of tree failure is planting too deep.

The biggest keys to remember when planting a tree are:
  • Dig the hole wide and shallow. The hole should be 2-3 times the width of the root ball and only as deep as the root ball.
  • When removing the root ball from the pot, shave about one inch of the out edge of the root ball to encourage roots to grow out and prevent circling roots from later strangling the trunk.
  • Use the native soil as backfill rather than adding a bag of compost or a different type of soil to the planting hole.
  • Finally, water or irrigate with light, frequent applications for establishment.
    Diagram of proper planting steps. Shows planting hole wider than root ball and hole depth shallower than root ball.

    Proper planting detail. Photo by UF/IFAS (https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/planting-detail.shtml)

     

For more information on selecting, planting, and establishing trees check out:

Florida-Friendly Plants for Polk County Landscapes

Planting and Establishing Trees

Planting on Sandy Soil

Proper Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs

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