When You Receive Your Seedlings

Immediately open the box and confirm your order. Since things may shift during the shipping process, make sure the roots are still covered with moist sphagnum moss. If the roots are not moist, spray them with water and surround them with moist sphagnum moss.

Your seedlings will have the highest survival rate when prepared and planted immediately after delivery. If immediate planting is not possible:

  • Keep seedlings in a cold area out of the sunlight. The ideal temperature range for holding dormant seedlings is between 33 and 34 degrees Fahrenheit. If outdoor temperature remains cold when you receive the seedlings, you may place them in a shed or outbuilding. Make sure the building does not heat up during the day and the box isn't exposed to sunlight.
  • If cold storage is not available, place the seedlings in a dark and cool place such as a cellar or basement. Ever so slightly open the bag to allow for a bit of air circulation. Check the seedlings every 24 hours to make sure the roots and sphagnum moss are moist. Gently spray with water as needed.
  • If you intend to take the seedlings out of their original packaging, it is important that the roots remain moist but not wet. A good method of holding is to fill the bottom of a bucket or tub with 2”-3” of water. Next, add shredded paper or sphagnum moss and mix well. Place seedlings in the tub, packing the roots with the moist moss. Check moisture content daily. Roots must remain moist, but not soaking directly in water.
  • If the seedlings will not be planted within 3-5 days of receipt or cold storage is unavailable we suggest you use a method known as “heeling in”. Choose a protected location out of direct sun. Dig a trench deep enough that the roots fit in without bending them. Keep the bundled seedlings intact. Place the roots of the bundled trees in the trench and completely cover them with soil. Give the trench a thorough watering and let settle for a few minutes. Add a little more soil as needed to ensure the roots remain covered. Firm the soil with your foot. Heeled in seedlings will keep for several weeks if they are watered thoroughly once the soil begins to dry out. Even with this method, it is highly recommended that you plant before any leaves are sprouting.

Preparation of Seedlings

Set the stage for a successful planting experience by following these tips.

  • Soak roots of the seedlings for 6 to 8 hours immediately prior to planting. This is the time to use a root dip, particularly if you are unable to provide the suggested follow up care. We carry two products: Super Gel and SUPERspore. While a root dip is beneficial, it is not a substitute for follow up care. Soaking the roots helps to plump them up, which encourages water uptake and full hydration prior to planting. We do not recommend soaking longer than 8 hours as this may increase the risk of oxygen deprivation which may harm the roots.
  • When transporting seedlings to planting location they should be in a container which keeps roots moist right up to planting. We suggest you pack the roots in moist shredded paper or sphagnum moss. The key is to keep the roots moist at all times.
  • We do not recommend transporting seedlings into the field in the plastic bag in which they were delivered. A plastic bag may act as a mini-greenhouse exposing the seedlings to extreme temperatures which will harm the seedlings.

Read more about Site Selection and Seedling Preparation

Planting and Care Guide PDF