How to Plant & Care for Evergreen Shrubs
From Abelia to Wax Myrtle, there is a long list of evergreen shrubs that thrive in North Carolina and will lavish your yard with color and vibrancy all year long. Caring for evergreen shrubs is also simple, especially once they’re established. Here’s how to ensure your evergreen shrubs will live a long, healthy life.
When Should You Plant Evergreen Shrubs?
Planting at the right time is the first step in caring for your evergreen shrubs. In North Carolina, you can plant shrubs in the fall, late winter, and early spring, but the best time to plant is fall.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Planting Your Shrubs
Finish off your newly planted shrub with a layer of mulch about 3-4 inches thick. Not only is mulch aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also particularly good for plants that are establishing themselves in a new home. It keeps their roots cooler in summer and warmer in winter and it retains soil moisture.
Make sure your mulch layer is flat. If you create a volcano-like mound of mulch around your shrubs, it could cause them to rot and die.
Caring for Evergreen Shrubs
After you’ve planted your shrubs, it’s time to nurture them so that they successfully establish themselves in their new homes. The key? Consistent watering.
How Often You Should Water
Your shrubs could take as long as a year to get fully established, and during this time, they need to be watered frequently and regularly. For the first two weeks, very thirsty plants like Tea Olive and Wax Myrtle may need water every day or every other day. Boxwoods and Camellias don’t use as much water and may need less frequent watering. Watering once every two or three days may be enough for them. Later, you may be able to go longer between watering your new plants, but the frequency also depends on daytime temperatures and the porosity of the soil, so be sure to check the top of the root balls to make sure they are not drying out in between. Keep this up for the next few months. For example, if you planted them in the fall, keep this routine going all the way to spring. If it’s a dry spring, your frequent watering will need to continue.
Beware of Overwatering
It is possible to drown shrubs with too much water. So, keep a watchful eye on them for signs of overwatering. One such sign is leaf loss. It’s normal for newly planted shrubs to lose up to half their leaves because of the stress of being moved. However, if you give them the same amount of water consistently and they lose more than half their leaves, it’s likely because of overwatering, and you should ease off.
Wait until your shrubs are well-established before you begin fertilizing. Even after they’re established, they may not need fertilizer if they’re growing in high-quality soil or in a lawn that’s fertilized regularly.
That being said, fertilizer for recently established shrubs is proven to speed up their growth. The best fertilizer for such evergreen shrubs is the slow-release type. This type of fertilizer gradually releases nutrients. Select a slow-release fertilizer formulated for shrubs, and follow the instructions carefully. Better yet, have your soil tested. The NC Department of Agriculture Soil Lab will recommend the best type of fertilizer that fits your plants’ needs. We have the supplies needed to send samples to the lab and we will help you through the process at no cost. You can also pick up the required supplies at the Pitt County Ag Center.
Over 80 Varieties of Evergreen Shrubs at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees
If you want to improve your landscaping with some trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it. Fall is one of the best seasons for adding trees and shrubs to your landscaping. The more moderate temperatures, more frequent rainfall, and less intense sunshine reduce the transplanting stress for your new trees and shrubs.
The other perks of fall planting are that your trees and shrubs don’t have to worry about producing fruit or leaves. Deciduous trees and shrubs can drop their leaves and focus their energy on developing a robust root system through the North Carolina fall and winter. Having strong roots come spring will set them up for developing healthy leaves, flowers, and fruit in the spring. Planting in the fall may also result in some trees and shrubs blooming in their first summer instead of waiting until the second summer.
Guidelines for Planting Trees and Shrubs in Fall
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly.
When you’re adding trees and shrubs to your yard, there are some standard guidelines to follow to help ensure your investments’ success.
Before your trees are delivered, or before you bring them home, figure out where you’re going to be planting. Ensure you have enough room for the full mature size of your chosen tree or shrub wherever you’re going to plant it. Double-check where any buried cables, pipes, or lines are on your property, so you don’t hit anything when digging.
You can also start to prepare your planting holes ahead of time. Planting holes should be as deep as the root ball or pot the tree or shrub is in and about three times as wide as the root ball.
You should plant your trees or shrubs as soon as you can after you bring them home or they are delivered. If possible, plant your trees in the late afternoon or early evening on an overcast day. This will also help to reduce stress and prevent excess evaporation from the roots.
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly. If you can’t plant them right away, store them somewhere in the shade, and keep them well-watered so that the roots don’t dry out.
When the planting holes are ready, remove your trees or shrubs from their pots or burlap, and center them in the hole. Before you start adding soil, lay a shovel or rake handle across the hole, over the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level or slightly higher than the top edge of the planting hole. If it’s not, remove the tree or shrub and add more soil underneath the root ball.
Center your tree or shrub in the hole, and have someone hold it straight or stake it while you backfill around the root ball. Fill halfway, and water it thoroughly so the soil can settle in around the roots. Once the water has soaked into the ground, finish filling the hole and then tamp the soil in well with your heels. Creating a berm of soil 2-3 inches tall around the tree’s root ball will help keep the water soaking in over the root ball when you water, instead of draining away.
Add a Blanket of Mulch
Once you’ve planted your trees and shrubs, you can add a nice thick layer of organic mulch—aim for a thickness of approximately 3-4 inches. Organic mulch has many benefits for your landscape, besides its clean and tidy look. It helps regulate soil moisture and temperature. It protects the roots of plants from extreme weather, and over time, it actually improves the soil. Just make sure you don’t build a mulch in a “volcano” shape around the trunk of your tree, as that will almost inevitably cause rot, which could kill your pretty new plant.
If you’ve been thinking of adding some trees and shrubs, there’s no better time than the fall! Stop by our garden center today and check out our diverse collection of nursery-grown trees and shrubs.
Carolina Seasons Nursery