Plant your own tree on Arbor Day
ANN M. O'PHELANEvery year, Florida's Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday in January, which is this upcoming Friday. The day is dedicated to tree planting, caring for trees, and for increasing awareness of the importance of trees.
Published: January 16, 2013
Published: January 16, 2013
The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska, and was such a success — more than a million trees were planted — that all 50 states now celebrate their own Arbor Days. The exact dates of celebration do vary from state to state as the days are based on the most suitable time to plant trees. In 1970, President Richard Nixon deemed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day.
Trees are vital to the health of the environment, and when planted can assist with reforestation and in providing wind or heat protection, as well as creating oxygen. They also provide homes for animals such as birds, owls, and insects.
You can celebrate this important day in many ways, including planting a tree in your own yard. It's also a good day to take a close look at the trees you already have growing to ensure that they are insect and disease-free and to see if they need tending to.
If you are planning to plant a tree it is important to choose the right type so it can sustain for many years to come. Florida-Friendly Landscaping offers several suggestions to consider before making your purchase.
Trees that make good choices for the central Florida area include: Red maple, slash pine, laurel oak and American elm; however, the exact location's soil drainage should also be considered beforehand. You can contact your local county extension office for more assistance and also check hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/selection.shtml.
When planting new trees, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure proper growth. First, choose a high-quality nursery grown tree. "They have been selected, pruned, and fertilized to produce a strong healthy root system and canopy that will have a greater chance of survival in Florida yards," said Daniel F. Culbert, extension agent III - Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Okeechobee Extension Service, who explained that successful tree establishment is most dependent on regular watering.
Also, be sure to plant your dormant stock in the ground outside and not in pots. "The ground will give your stock the perfect cold/warm environment to stay dormant and establish root growth, " said Ashley Zerr, member services representative, Arbor Day Foundation.
UF Gardening in a Minute recommends that once you choose the right site, you should dig a hole at least one-and-a-half times the diameter of the root ball and no deeper. Then, place the tree in the hole, ensuring that the roots in the top of the root ball are one to two inches above the surrounding soil. Lastly, replace the soil around the tree and pack it firmly with your foot in order to stabilize it.
Fertilization is something to avoid when initially planting because many additives actually work against the successful growth.
"Over-fertilization may burn new tender roots," said Culbert, who explained that nursery-grown trees often do not require fertilization, as they already have time-release nutrients in the potting soil.
Also, consider a long-term-maintenance plan. "Determine who will keep an eye on it for the first year, in order to get the tree established," said Culbert. Those who will be responsible for any pruning, pest management or fertilization in years to come should also be decided.
Although Florida's Arbor Day is just days away, next year you might consider creating your own Arbor Day program.
"Try a local service organization, school, or youth group. Look for a place in the community that really needs a tree, and ask the property owner if they would like to participate," suggested Culbert.