Planting Arborvitae and Bulbs In November

Asked November 16, 2015, 3:41 PM EST

Hello. A friend dropped off several potted arborvitae they didn't get around to planting. I was wondering if it was too late to plant them. If I can, should I fertilze them. Also, several of mine really struggled after our harsh winter last year and have large patches of dead growth. I'm wondering if these patches will eventually fill in so the tree doesn't look so ratty and also if there's anything I could do to help this. Lastly, they also gave me a bag of daffodils and one of hyacinth. May I still plant these? They did give me the receipt, would I be better off returning them? Thank you.

Alpena County Michigan

1 Response


You can plant the bulbs if the ground isn't frozen. They should go in Sept or Oct but this is a warm fall and they may do ok. If the ground is very dry water them in, then after the ground does freeze, mulch over the top of them about 4 inches deep with shredded leaves or bark.

You can plant the arbs if the are not bare-rooted---- that is, they were purchased in a pot or are 'balled and burlapped'. What is critical to success is following the proper planting procedure, watering, and screening the new plants from desiccating winds and from the sun over their first winter. Keep them watered, but not sopping wet, until the ground freezes. See the link to proper planting, below.

Your winter injured shrubs can take 2-4 years to come back. Removing damaged branches to clean up the plant and encourage new growth is something that should be done in spring. According to the Illinois State University Extension, next spring "cut just a little past the damaged portions and not too deep into the plant. Fertilization is helpful to encourage new growth and you might want to use a general purpose granular type fertilizer spread evenly over the root zone out to the outer branches of the plant, worked in lightly and then watered well." Monitor to see if they start sprouting there next spring/summer. Again keep these watered this fall and through next growing season.

Do not fertilize any shrubs now. You do not want tender new growth to start right now, it will just freeze and die when a hard freeze comes. You can fertilize next spring. The best way to tell what needs fertilizer and how much is to conduct a soil test- you can do a soil test any time the ground isn't frozen- MSU's soil test kit is available here-

I am including a couple links to give you details on these topics-

Winter protection of evergreen shrubs----

I hope this info is helpful. Thank you