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Get ready for spring planting, landscaping
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Garden centers and plant outlets are now stocking up on a variety of trees, and it pays to do a little research before selecting what to plant.
Consumers often ask for fast-growing trees, such as willow and river birch, but these quick growers tend to have weak wood and often suffer damage in wind or ice storms.
Many people opt for specific ornamental characteristics, such as profuse blooms or good fall color. Some of the popular trees, such as Bradford pear and sugar maple, which have these characteristics, also suffer from short lives, weak wood, or both.
Trees such as red maple, sweet bay magnolia, and red oak tend to grow at a medium rate but suffer less damage than their faster-growing counterparts.
Late fall and winter are the best times to plant trees in Mississippi, but they can be planted in spring with supplemental watering during dry periods.
There are a few points to consider before planting or placing a tree in the landscape. Avoid placing trees where they may cause future problems, such as underneath or near overhead utility wires and near building rooflines.
Also, check for all buried lines and wires before digging by calling Mississippi One-Call at 800-227-6477 or 811. Large trees need plenty of room for their roots to grow and should be kept at least 30 feet from foundations and pavement.
While there are a number of trees that can be grown in Mississippi, it is always best to select trees that resist insect or disease problems, are tolerant of drought, and are adapted to the state’s temperature extremes. Many native trees are long-lived and hardy species; these include Southern magnolia, live oak, red oak, bald cypress, American holly, swamp chestnut oak, nuttall oak, willow oak, deciduous holly, yaupon holly, eastern red cedar, black gum, redbud, hawthorn and wax myrtle.
Exotic species that do well in Mississippi include crape myrtle, dawn redwood, gingko, Chinese elm, amelanchier, Kousa dogwood, and saucer magnolia.
This time of year, trees are sold in three different forms, including container, bare root, and balled-and-burlap. When buying container-grown trees, remove the pot and make sure that the roots are not curling or appear dead or excessively brown.
Bare root trees are sold without soil and should be kept moist. Check them for broken or decayed roots.
Balled-and-burlap trees are larger field-grown trees. It is fine to leave the burlap on the root ball at planting, but remove any metal or plastic cages, wraps or ties.
Be sure to avoid dropping the trees or breaking roots. Plant so the root ball is even with or just above the soil line.
Useful guides include Selecting Landscape Trees (P2679) and Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes (P2330). The Mississippi Urban Forestry Council offers the publication Mississippi Trees for free online at http://www.msurbanforest.com/mississippitrees_final.pdf.