Planting guide for container grown trees

Planting Timing:

When: Anytime during the growing season but avoid frost risk (September to March in the southern growing regions). Spring is best, but summer and early autumn also work well.



    • Undertake a soil survey to establish the suitability for the crop to be planted. Soil drainage, EC, pH, calcium carbonate and clay content are important considerations.
    • Ideally, establish wind breaks before planting. Sorghum for temporary wind protection, and trees such as non- suckering poplars for permanent wind protection.
    • Deep rip and fine till the soil.
    • Apply manure or other organic matter, fertiliser and other soil treatments such as gypsum if required and incorporate.
    • Mound the soil if desire. This is recommended in most situations where drip irrigations is used.
    • Place drip tube in row to be planted and pre water.


    • Ensure different varieties and rootstocks are kept separate and identified if received from the Nursery in the same consignment.
    • Drill the planting hole using tractor mounted auger with water attachment. Be very careful if you intend to place fertilizer in the hole at planting as this can burn the roots and or kill the tree.  There is usually enough fertiliser in the root ball / potting media for tree establishment.
    • Remove any nursery tying tapes from the trunk that might get buried. These can cause rotting of the trunk bark under the soil.
    • Remove, without disturbing, the root ball from the container, and cut off any circling or bent roots from the perimeter and bottom of the root ball.
    • Adjust the depth and diameter of the planting hole to ensure correct positioning of the root ball.
    • Place the root ball in the planting hole and back fill. Avoid air pockets below or around the root ball and ensure the potting media is covered with approximately 25 mm of soil.  Do not plant the tree too deep.  If soil comes into contact with the tree above the bud union, the tree often dies very quickly.
    • Ensure the tree guard (if fitted) is not partially buried and that the trunk is not exposed below the tree guard.
    • Place drip tube against trunks, irrigate and closely monitor root ball and soil moisture.
    • Fertigate and apply frequent foliar nutrient and growth hormone sprays.

    Post Planting Maintenance:

    • 3 to 4 weeks after planting, secure the fibreglass stack to the trunk of the tree with an Agrifast rubber tree tie, approximately 100mm from the top of the stake. This secures the tree to the stake and helps to keep the stake in the soil. Otherwise, movement in windy conditions can cause the stake to work out of the soil.
    • Tree guards if fitted should be checked regularly for pests such as ants and earwigs
    • Tree guards should be removed before they tighten on the expanding trunk- usually around 2.5 to three years after planting, to prevent rotting of the bark

    Post Planting Irrigation:

    • All trees are grown in coir (coconut fibre). This material has many beneficial characteristics for the production of high-quality trees in the nursery. Also, its high water-absorption and water-holding capacity, assists establishment in the field.
    • On the other hand, after planting, Grower should take care to ensure the coir in the root ball is not allowed to stay too wet, as this can promote soil borne pathogens.
    • This is particularly the case in heavier soils with higher clay content. It is therefore highly recommended that the drip tube is moved from the trunk to the edge of the potting mix when roots are detected growing into the surrounding soil.
    • This could be three to five weeks after planting, depending on the time of the year.
    • The next movement of the drip tube further away from the trunk could be after another three to five months.


      Important drip tube placement recommendation summary:

        • Before planting, wet up the planting row.
        • Immediately after planting place drip line(s) against the trunk.
        • Monitor rootzone moisture and when the roots venture out into soil, move the drip line(s) away from trunk by approx. 120 mm (could be 3 to 5 weeks after planting).
        • Move drip line(s) 200 to 250 mm from trunk after 12 months.
        • Move drip line(s) 300 to 400 mm from trunk after three years.
        • Move drip line(s) 500 to 600 mm from trunk after four years- good practice to protect trunk and root system close to trunk from phytophthora etc.
        • The final distance from trunk would be limited by the width of mounds if used.
        • Adjust this guide according to your specific soil and growing conditions.