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FL Arbor Day & Tree Planting Tips



Why does FL have their own Arbor Day?


Arbor Day in Florida falls in January, strategically chosen when most trees are in a dormant state, minimizing water loss through transpiration. Planting in January is less stressful on plants and increases your likelihood for success.


In observance of Florida's Arbor Day, residents are urged to participate in planting a tree to reduce pollution, increase energy conservation (think cooling costs) and to increase our beautiful states aesthetics.


Planting native trees safeguards Florida's environmental equilibrium, curbing invasive plant proliferation, and mitigating potential impacts of climate change.


 

The Importance of Planting Native


However, planting native trees on Florida Arbor Day goes beyond mere aesthetics; it plays a crucial role in preserving the state's environmental balance. Native trees have evolved to thrive in Florida's specific climate, soil, and ecological conditions. By choosing native species, you contribute to biodiversity, providing habitats for local wildlife and supporting the intricate web of flora and fauna unique to the region.


Native trees are inherently adapted to resist pests and diseases prevalent in Florida, reducing the need for chemical interventions. This natural resilience fosters a healthier, more sustainable ecosystem.


Moreover, native trees often require less water and maintenance, making them well-suited for Florida's climate and conserving precious resources.


 

Considerations before Planting


Right Plant, Right Place: Even the healthiest trees, when planted in right place, require considerable time, care, and irrigation for successful establishment in the landscape. Give your tree the best chance of survival by matching your site conditions to the trees natural conditions; sun, drainage, pH, wind, salt exposure etc. Be mindful of sunlight changes over the seasons to ensure optimal growth.


Watering Needs: Proper irrigation during the establishment phase is critical for successful growth. Match site location with drainage. Does that location flood during large rain events?


Size and Space: Take into account the mature size of the tree to avoid future issues with crowding. Allow sufficient space for the tree to grow without competition from other plants or structures. Remember to look up!


Wildlife-Friendly Choices: Consider trees that attract native wildlife, fostering a balanced and vibrant ecosystem. Many trees are considered to be keystone species providing food, shelter and places for wildlife to raise their young. For instance; Oak trees host an incredible 952 species of caterpillar species (National Wildlife Federation)! Be kind to caterpillars, rarely will they kill your plants and they play an integral part of the food web.


Climate Resilience: Opt for trees with climate resilience, capable of withstanding Florida's occasional weather extremes, including hurricanes and tropical storms. Consider using trees as a wind break to protect your home.


Already a Tree Lover? Utilize Arbor Day as an opportunity for educational outreach. Share information about the benefits of trees, environmental conservation, and the significance of native plantings. Encourage neighbors to participate in tree planting events. So together we can replant 'Wild Florida'.


Long term: the long-term impact of tree planting, is not just for current residents but for future generations. Trees contribute to a legacy of environmental stewardship.


 

Planting & Caring for your Tree


Roots: It’s okay to root prune! Any circling roots need to be removed when planting. This encourages new roots to anchor deep into the soil. Circling roots may eventually kill the tree.


Planting: Build an island around the roots. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball but no deeper than the root flare. Back fill with native soil and any amendments if using. Create a brim of soil around the outer edges of the root ball to create a mote that will capture and retain water. (Plant it high, let it thrive. Plant it low, it won’t grow).


Mulch: Add 2-4” of mulch (depending on type of mulch, if using pine straw 4-6” is recommended). Leave around 3” of space between mulch and the trunk of the tree for air flow. Leaves make an outstanding mulch that provide nutrients back to the soil along with habitat for microorganisms and fungi that will aide in the establishment period.


Watering: Regular deep watering proves more benefits for transplanted trees than infrequent light irritation. Water daily for 2 weeks, every other day for 2 months, twice weekly for 2-3 months, then weekly until fully established. The critical establishment phase for trees are in the first 4 to 8 months!


Monitor: Regularly check the soil moisture, specially during our hot dry seasons (March-May). Prune as needed after you start to see new growth.


Celebrating Florida Arbor Day is not just about planting trees; it's a commitment to nurturing our environment. By incorporating these tips and focusing on native species, we contribute to the resilience and biodiversity of our ecosystem. As we honor this day, let's recognize the profound impact each tree planted can have on the future, fostering a healthier, greener Florida for generations to come.


Plant Native & Garden with Purpose,

Lindsey


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