Taking Care of Your Seedling Until Planting Time

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Step 1: Pet precautions

If your seedling shares an environment with pets -- especially dogs -- make sure to take steps to keep it out of their reach. Dogs have been known to use seedlings as chew toys, as well as using them to "mark their territory". Both of these can cause great damage to your seedling.

Step 2: Water your seedling once a week until planting time

Unbox your seedling, preferably outside, and immediately water it. Fill it to the rim and let the water drain through the bottom of the potting container. (It's always best to water your tree outside or where the water draining through the container won’t be a problem.) The potting soil will retain about 50% of the water and the rest will drain out of the bottom.

It is critical that you water your seedling once a week until you are ready to plant it. Your seedling will start to droop and wilt if it needs water.

Rainfall is great for your tree, but you should maintain your once-weekly watering schedule even it rains. Most rain showers won’t provide as much water to your tree as a routine watering will.

Step 3: Provide your seedling with plenty of sunshine

Place your potted seedling outdoors in full sunshine. The more sunshine – the faster it will grow.

About your seedling's shipping package

Each element of your potted seedling has a purpose. On top of the potting soil, there is a 3/8” felt disc (called a "Rootcap") which is made specifically to fit the Rootmaker one-gallon potting container. 

The Rootcap allows water to penetrate into the potting soil below – and allows for faster watering of your seedling without eroding the soil. The Rootcap also prevents soil moisture from evaporating as quickly. 

The Rootcap is held in place with twine which has been laced back and forth across the top level of drain holes in the Rootmaker container. The twine holds the potting soil and the root ball in place during the shipping process in case the cardboard box tips over. I advise you to keep the Rootcap and the twine in place until planting time.

The 24-inch tree stake serves to hold the Rootmaker potting container securely to the bottom of the shipping box. The stake also protects the seedling stem during shipping, and should be removed when unboxing the tree. 

About Live Oaks

  • Live oaks are one of many different oak tree varieties. They are native to the Gulf Coast region and grow in the warmer regions of the nation – about 300-400 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and along both the east and west coasts in more temperate regions (Hardiness Zones 8, 9, and 10).

  • Live oaks retain green leaves throughout the year. Especially in the spring, live oaks will start shedding last year’s dark green leaves (which turn brown before dropping) while adding bright new green leaves at the same time. Don’t be alarmed when your young tree starts “molting” its older leaves in the spring – and throughout the year. This is perfectly normal for live oaks.

  • By its fourth year or so, live oaks will start to produce a small crop of acorns every fall. As your tree grows older and larger, more and more acorns will be produced each year. Over time, live oaks will produce a larger canopy of branches which will produce a lot of shade – to the point that grass and other ground covers will have difficult growing under its branches.

Post-Planting Care: Watering and Pruning

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Watering After Planting

For the first year after planting, your seedling still needs to be watered well once per week, 52 weeks per year. It won’t require a lot of water each time, but the frequency will be important in order for your tree to establish its root system in the ground.

I recommend a very simple, efficient watering method for your newly planted seedling – and for a taller sapling as your tree grows. It's called a TREE IV, and it's available for purchase online.

Sprinkler systems do not provide enough water for your tree, so plan accordingly when planting.

Pruning your tree

Know in advance that you will eventually trim off ALL of the lower branches on your tree within three or four years, so don’t worry about your tree looking a bit “bushy” during its early years. Those lower branches actually help the tree stem grow stronger, as the tree senses it will have permanent lower branches growing from the stem and “beefs up” the lower stem to support them. So leave those lower branches on your tree for a couple of years and allow your tree stem to grow stronger.

Eventually, you will want to prune off all of the lower branches below the 4-foot or 5-foot level from the ground – so that the remaining lower branches will be the lowest permanent branches as your tree grows older.

As your tree grows larger, and in the interest of making it look its best, it's best to hire a professional tree trimmer to give your tree a haircut every so often. If you do the job yourself, you may not be pleased with the long-term results. A pro will do a better job – and you will be more pleased with the way your tree looks. Once you cut off a limb, it can never be re-attached, so always use a pro.