Improper planting depth

When planting, look for the root flare, and plant the ball with the root flare level with the ground. The kousa dogwood below declined over a period of several years before it died.

planting depth
Below: The root flare was buried 5” down and topped with a layer of mulch. Be careful when uncovering roots of plants that have been buried for several years. Many roots have developed near the surface. These roots can be killed when uncovered. Adjusting planting depth is best done in spring after the weather settles to allow time for new root growth to develop and to allow the plant to adjust before the ground freezes.

depth too deep

Symptoms associated with planting too deep include wilting, stunted growth, chlorosis, dieback, early fall color, scorch, and the development of adventitious roots. Planting too deep restricts the amount of water and oxygen to the fine root systems, lowering the trees vitality. Trees planted too deep are also more subject to canker development and wind throw.

depth too shallow
Above: Planting too shallow—this yew was planted with part of the root ball sticking out of the ground, and the burlap and twine left on. Burlap should be removed if possible or at least cut off the top to allow water penetration into the root ball. Twine should be removed. The root ball should be just covered with soil.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.