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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Naperville Gardener – Super power of the month: I can grow trees


J. Sterling Morton lived in Nebraska and when he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he proposed a tree planting holiday in 1872 and the celebration was scheduled for April 10. Contests were held for counties and individuals properly (PROPERLY!) planting trees on that one day. The count exceeded one million trees planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day. Plan a visit to the Morton Arboretum, founded in 1922 by Joy Morton, son of J. Sterling. A day with trees will do you good!

National Garden Clubs, Inc., of which the Naperville Garden Club and the Cress Creek Garden Club are members, has long promoted the planting of trees. The organization has a “Plant America with Trees” chairman, and annually asks all of its members (Illinois has over 6,000) to report the number of trees they have planted.

I’d like to know how many trees people in our community have planted since last spring. If you’d like to be included in my count, send in your info – what kind of tree you planted, when and where (not too specific – my back yard, my cabin in Wisconsin, my church, etc.) to my email, marilynkrueger@comcast.net.

When planning to plant a tree, consider where you want the tree to grow. Will it still fit when full grown? Is it too close to the house? Will its roots crack the sidewalk or driveway? Will it get enough sun and is the spot you picked soggy or dry?

Ask for help at our local nurseries, they’re great! When planting the tree (First call Julie at 811), dig a hole three times the diameter of the root ball and only as deep as the root ball. A yardstick is helpful. Remove whatever is around the roots – the wire basket, strings, burlap and of course – the container. Water the root ball and place it in the center of the hole that should only be as deep as the root ball. We want to plant our tree, not bury it! Put the soil from the hole around the tree up to the trunk flare and to the top of the root ball. Be absolutely sure that you don’t put soil or mulch around the tree trunk.

I have a panic attack every time I see a “volcano” of soil and mulch up the trunk. Don’t do that! And don’t plant grass seed around the tree, either. Think about the forest floor – no mowing or weed whacking going on there! Water regularly during the first season and stake the tree if you notice it tipping in the wind.

I can grow trees and you can and SHOULD, too!

Marilyn Krueger
Marilyn Kruegerhttp://www.napervillegardenclub.org
Marilyn Krueger is an avid local gardener and member of the Naperville Garden Club.