• Transport seedlings carefully, avoiding rips or tears in packaging.
  • Avoid stacking seedlings too high to minimize crushing.
  • Store seedlings in a cool, shaded area (34-36 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal). Temperatures in the upper 40s, for even a week, can cause storage mold or root disease. If you must hold seedlings two weeks or more, request they be frozen or held at a low temperature at the nursery until shortly before planting.
  • Minimize drying and water loss by limiting exposure to sun and wind. Sprinkle with water occasionally if drying is apparent. Roots must breathe: do not leave water in the bag or immerse the trees in water or mud.
  • At the planting site, protect seedlings from direct sunlight and freezing temperatures. Use a covered vehicle, natural shade or reflective cover; do not use canvas or other non-reflective materials which may cause heat build-up.
  • Keep seedling bags and boxes tightly sealed until you’re ready to remove trees.
  • If seedlings are frozen when you receive them, completely thaw them in a cool, shaded area. Do not use direct sunlight or other heat sources.
  • Do not rip or tear roots from seedlings. If root pruning is necessary, use a sharp blade.


  • Remove debris and rotting forest material from your planting area.
  • Cultivation is beneficial, but the soil must be settled and firm before planting.
  • Avoid planting in poorly drained areas and permanently drain excessive ground water.


  • Use a planting tool slightly wider and deeper than the root system of your largest seedling.
  • Open a hole deep enough for the root system to be planted straight without bending, twisting or squishing the roots.
  • Pull one tree at a time from the seedling container; minimize air exposure to the other seedlings.
  • Put the seedling in the planting hole about ½ inch deeper than the nursery soil line, indicated by a color change on the stem.
  • Hold the seedling in the correct position and at the right depth. Fill around the root system with loose, moist soil and pack it firmly to eliminate air pockets around the roots.


  • The first two years are critical for young trees. Good survival and growth rely on sufficient soil moisture and protection from damaging agents.
  • To maximize moisture and nutrient availability for the seedlings, keep your planting area free of weeds and grass through shallow cultivation. If you use herbicides or other chemicals, follow label directions exactly and contact a cooperative extension agent for application rates and methods. Young seedlings are susceptible to damage if sprayed with some herbicide products.
  • Water can be applied during spring and summer, or during drought conditions. Seedlings can normally survive without irrigation.
  • Keep livestock out of planting areas. If deer or elk browse is significant, install tree protectors, fencing or repellent products. Contact a cooperative extension agent for the latest recommendations.
  • Examine trees often for disease or rodent damage. Removal of grass and weeds around trees can reduce the risk of rodent damage. If disease is present, contact a cooperative extension agent for control recommendations.
  • Fertilizer is not recommended the first year after planting as it promotes excessive top growth without proper root development. This can lead to abnormal growth or mortality.
  • After the first year, a slow release, balanced fertilizer is recommended. Consult your local garden supply store for more information.