If you’re reading this, it’s likely you received a package from us recently. A cardboard box probably showed up on your front stoop and inside was your gift tree. Maybe it was a Southern Magnolia or an olive tree or maybe it wasn’t even a tree at all and you received a Gardenia plant.
But, no matter what gift tree you received, you are most likely wondering what to do next. We love our burlap bags and hand-tied ribbons as much as you do, but if your tree is going to grow into a strong and healthy adult, it will need some wiggle room. So we’re here to help share three steps to potting your new gift tree!
Pick the right size container
After you unpack your gift tree, you’ll need to find the right size container. Your container should be about 14-17 inches across depending on the size of your tree. What happens if you put a plant in a pot too big? The soil will dry more slowly, which will make your plant more likely to develop root rot. But in a pot too small, your plant might become root bound, which will keep it from growing as big as it should.
Make sure your gift tree has proper drainage
Now that you have the right size container, you’ll want to make sure it has proper drainage. Without a place for the water to go, it’ll sit at the bottom of the pot, which can also lead to root rot. When there is too much water, it cuts off the oxygen to the roots. This lack of oxygen causes them to die and decay, which can spread to the rest of the roots. Good drainage and not overwatering your plant will keep root rot from developing.
Plant your tree
Next, put some soil in the bottom of the container so that when you put the tree in there the lip of the container lines up with the top of the root ball. You don’t want to drown your plant in soil. Instead, fill the area around the plant up with soil and then stop at the top of the root ball. Covering the root ball with too much soil can lead to problems like settling, which is the collapse of the soil surrounding the root. It will also help with better drainage, and maximize soil oxygen, which will lower the risk of transplant shock.
Water & sunlight
Once your container is filled and your plant looks happy go ahead and give it a nice good watering! The wonderful thing about container gardening is that you can grow plants that might not normally survive the winters in your gardening zone. Our lemon trees for example can only survive in temperatures about 28 degrees F and above and they definitely don’t like the snow.
But if you live somewhere where your lemon tree can grow in full sun during the spring, summer, and early fall, it’ll do just fine when it’s indoors for the winter. You will need to adjust the size of your container as it grows and make sure you have a plant saucer under your pot to catch that extra water. Besides that, add some fertilizer twice a year (usually fall and spring is best), water your plant when it gets dry, make sure it gets ample sunlight, and your gift tree will be ready to thrive.