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LeBeau Bamboo Nursery      Medford, Oregon 541-499-4992

Proper Planting Depth For Perennials, Shrubs, and Trees

For almost all plant groups you want to keep the roots at roughly the same depth as when they were grown in the nursery or their container. With woody trees and shrubs, if anything you want to plant the roots even a little bit higher than they were in the nursery. The main reason you don't want to bury your new plant's roots too deep is that far more oxygen is available near the surface of the soil, and oxygen is necessary for strong root growth. Planting too deep will cause stunted root growth, and without a strong root system your plant is probably never going to look its best.

In the long run, the other major issue is that while the roots are fairly resistant to rot, any portion of a plant's trunk or main stem which is buried is likely to start rotting at some point. Soil piled up against the trunk will create continuous moisture around the bark and will often lead to the bark dying and rot setting into the main stem (or the crown for herbaceous perennials if it is buried too deep). If the stem rots, your plant is doomed.

Keep in mind, this is also true for mulching your plants! A lot of people, and even professional landscapers, pile up bark mulch around plants right up to their trunk. This has the same effect as moist soil and will often result in trunk rot and death. If you plan on mulching your plants, plant them two inches higher than you would otherwise and mulch them right away. It is almost like you are planting right in the mulch. When applying mulch to an existing tree or shrub, apply the mulch around the plant but leave at least six inches of space around the main trunk with no new mulch. You can apply a very thin layer of large chunked bark mulch (these are pieces an inch or two across) around the base just for appearances as this material allows for enough airflow when applied lightly.

Herbaceous perennials, or perennials that die back in the winter and re-sprout in the spring, will usually enjoy several inches of mulch in the fall.

Woody Shrubs and Well Rooted Perennials

Woody shrubs, trees, and most types of perennials should have their roots spread out in all directions as much as possible rather than bunched up all together in the hole. If you have a perennial and the tops have been cut back then leave the top of the growing tip slightly above ground as pictured. You can cover this with an inch or two of mulch and replace it as it composts down. For woody plants with a trunk, avoid mulching against the trunk.

Plants With Long Tap Roots

Plants with tap roots should be placed with the main root pointing straight down and covered right to the growing point. If the plant has been pruned back then leave the top of the growing tip above ground as pictured. You can cover this with half an inch of mulch or leaves, but usually no deeper.

Plants With Large Bulbs

Plants with large tubers such as Dahlias typically like to be planted shallow, with the top of the tuber resting just under ground level. Mulch with 1-2 inches of compost, leaves, or bark. If the tops have been cut back, plants with these types of large bulbs typically don't need the tip to be poking out above ground. Spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils, and Onions often like to be buried deeper. If this is the case it will be mentioned in the plant's description page at

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