Area Arbor Day events teach selecting and planting native trees

Arbor Day

Left, William Symington and Jean Blair carry native tree saplings to their car on Tuesday during Arbor Day events at Crestview's Okaloosa County extension office. Right, extension agents demonstrate loosening the roots from the root ball of a sapling. "Circling" can stunt growth when roots try to wrap around inside the container in which it is sold.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 04:52 PM.

CRESTVIEW — With root system growth in its optimal growing mode while shoot and trunk growth is dormant, now is the best time to plant new trees, experts say.

County extension agents on Tuesday discussed tree-planting do's and don'ts, and demonstrated planting techniques while attendees received their choice of eight native species of northwest Florida trees to take home and practice what they learned.

University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences County Extension horticulture agent Sheila Dunning, who spoke on tree growth and care, offered these tips:

Water saplings well at first. "Don't put a tree in the ground and walk away," she said.

Don't fertilize a new sapling. It could burn the tender young roots. Wait until a tree is established to fertilize.

Never snip off the top of a tree to compensate for trimmed roots. Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom. Do clip malformed, broken or misdirected branches, however.

When trimming a branch from a mature tree, never trim close to the trunk. Cut at an angle, being careful not to nick the trunk.

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