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Planted too deep: a photo essay (FIXED)


I was enjoying all the new growth on my trees and vines when I noted a Santa Rosa Plum had the dreaded Chlorosis. No way! I knew this wasn't a soil issue as this was buried in prime. I'd been reading that trees should be planted at their root flare




So I dug down to find the flare, and I kept digging. It is a bit hard to tell but this is the spade level with the original planting level



And this is the garden spade touching the top of the root flare. Carp. Double Carp. This is planted way too deep.


So I made like Indiana Jones and excavated the roots. Along the way I picked out lots of lovely grubs and earth worms. Great for calling the wife over, "honey come here! <...> here catch these."



And the tree pulled out. Interesting since it was planted so deep, all of the feeder roots were facing up instead of out. I had to prune lots of those.




picture of the whole tree (before)



And the tree chopped. I didn't want a giant tree with no root structure to keep it up. I also didn't want the tree with fruit on it. So luckily it was budding out so I was able to pick three buds at the direction I liked and chopped just above that. I also didnt' like the shape of this tree anyway so it wasn't overly sad to cut this down and start over.






It's a little hard to tell but there is a little bud on the back side giving me three directions. There are two in the front on top of one another. I'll decide which to chop when they grown out. These trees have narrow crotch angles so I'll pick the one with the lower angle.



this is my back filled hole and a little mound for the roots to sit on. This dirt was damp so i didn't feel the need to presoak.



this is my tree properly planted. Haven't yet mulched.




this is the tree replanted much shallower, chopped, and gently mulched with wood chips. This got a fat healthy dose of b vitimans and will continue to receive a nice dose of B vits every other watering until I'm satisfied it's past shock. I hate doing this when the tree is out of dormancy but it was that or have an unhealthy tree that produces crappy fruit. You can see the old plant level and it's at least 12 inches...alright, maybe my 12 inches is in my  head, but half a foot too deep.

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Comment by Brian Beck on May 1, 2013 at 4:28pm

You don't want it planted deep. You want the hole deep, back fill and then plant on top of the back fill. You want width so the soil is broken up so those roots aren't trying to penetrate into a compacted soil. If they can't go into the compacted soil, they'll just circle in the hole you dug killing your tree in two years.


I'm not that keen on bareroot as i dislike them personally, but at this heat they should have broken dormancy. You can scratch some bark and check for green. green is life, brown is death. Sometimes trees are dead at top and alive towards bottom.

Comment by Gabe M on May 1, 2013 at 3:26pm

im pretty sure my hole was deep enough, im just not sure if or is wide enough? it was planted with some other fruit trees, all tree holes are deep, just not wide. two of the four root stocks have not yet begun to leaf. would you guys recommend digging them up and replanting them?

Comment by Catherine, The Herb Lady on May 1, 2013 at 9:03am

Thanks for sharing the experience Brian.

Comment by Peggy Aarmstrong on May 1, 2013 at 8:55am

When I have planted trees over the years I plant a  drilled pvc pipe with them, driven down farther.  this way when they are watered the roots go down.  If you water them from a well the roots  tend to stick near the surface and said tree blows over easier.   I bought one at home depot the other day, saves me trying to drill on pipes now.

Comment by Brian Beck on May 1, 2013 at 8:27am

well I believe the genearl rule of thumb is twice as wide and twice as deep. But you can do more than that.  You'll then back fill the hole and plant your plant making sure it's planted high. I believe you do this to loosen the soil as our soil tends to compact. In the picture above i didn't do that because the soil was already loamy and not compacted at all.

If you planted bare root (it is very late) then you'll want to make sure that you have the root flare sticking out as the picture above. Make sure you create a watering well and then you can just flood that. In the picturs above the trees are on a slope and I cannot create a nice well due to the retaining wall in the back.


I hope that's clear.


As an update, this tree is doing very well. My new concern with the tree is getting the crotch angles where I want them. This tree wants to grow straight up and down.

Comment by Gabe M on May 1, 2013 at 2:29am

how wide is your hole? i just planted the same type of tree, but biased off your pic, maybe not wide enough? i just planted a root stock. couple days ago, i know its late in the season, but we just moved into our new home

Comment by Heather Green on April 6, 2013 at 5:20pm

I'm so happy you checked for root flare first. I often encounter people doing everything but the obvious. Thanks for sharing!

Comment by Liz & Dan on March 29, 2013 at 5:56pm

I can see them... Thanks for sharing your experience!

Comment by Patricia on March 24, 2013 at 1:51pm

Carp.  I can't see the pictures.

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