This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
At the last meeting of the Kansas Horticultural Society, Mr. Robert Douglas related his experience in growing evergreens from seed, his mode of culture, transplanting and pruning. He saw no reason why evergreens cannot be successfully grown here. Other trees grow here that are quite as difficult to transplant. He was of opinion that the principal cause of failure is in planting too late. The idea has got abroad that the best time to move an evergreen is just as it is starting into growth. Such is not his experience; thinks the notion originated in the fact that nurserymen who have a large amount of. work to do in the Spring, must put off something, and evergreens will bear delay better than deciduous trees; the latter are pretty surely killed by transplanting late, while the evergreen is only stunned. Since he came in, a gentleman had called his attention to a fact of great importance: The growth of an evergreen just transplanted, is no evidence of its vigor or of the. formation of new roots and a good hold of the ground. The growth which it makes . is entirely dependent on the buds formed the previous year. In these buds are stored up all the elements of the shoots made this year.
Now, a tree planted out early will finish its growth early, and afterward go on making roots, and perfect fine, plump buds for a good growth next year; while a tree set late, although it makes the same growth this year, and appears vigorous, will next year only make a feeble, stunted growth, because its terminal buds were weak and imperfect.
Another important point is, to pack the ground thoroughly about the roots. A vast number of failures occur from this cause. Many think they have tramped the earth thoroughly, but if they will observe they will discover that the first heavy rain settles it still more. It is difficult to get the earth back into the same space with the closest packing; hence, it must be done with exceeding care. Loose earth should be thrown on the top to present baking. Last Summer was a very trying season for transplanting trees, and he took a trip through the country, among his customers, expressly to observe the effects of different modes of planting, and in the large majority of cases where evergreens had failed, he found the earth not firmly packed about the roots. Sometimes it will be made firm at the top, but a cavity left underneath. This is the most dangerous fault of all; a tree so planted is almost certain to die, When one has but few to set and plenty of time, it is better to raise earth in the centre of the hole, in the form of a low cone or pyramid, and spread the roots carefully over it; but by all means avoid a bowl-shaped hole, lowest in the centre. The earth will settle most in the centre, and leave a cavity just under the stem, which is fatal.
Never wait for a rain to plant evergreens; would not advise to plant in the mud, though he himself was often obliged to do it. Did not himself shade small evergreens when transplanted, but it is better, especially in this hotter climate. A good way is, after the growth is finished and the weather grows hot, go over the rows and shake a little prairie hay loosely upon the trees, not enough to cover them, but to break the force of the sun's rays. He imports nearly all his seed, simply because he can get it cheaper; sows broadcast in the Spring, in his shaded bed, and rakes in; sows thick enough, so that the little trees will soon cover and shade the ground. At one year old he sells off a part, thinning out the beds; runs a thin, sharp spade a few inches under the plants, and then they are easily pulled out. Those left in the bed, having the tap roots cut, will make fibrous roots, and are the same as transplanted trees.
The number of seeds in a pound varies from 15,000 to 320,000, so that no fixed value can be given as to the weight to be sown per rod.
Very small trees are most conveniently transplanted with a dibble, larger ones by digging a trench, laying the trees in, and lightly covering. Tramp them firmly with the foot, then throw on more fine earth. Evergreens may be trimmed just as safely as other trees, to thicken up or to change their form.