Spring is usually the best time to plant white pine. Soil moisture is usually good, and cooler conditions help prevent young seedlings from drying. In southern Minnesota planting is usually best from early April to early May. In northern Minnesota, planting is recommended from late April to mid-May.
Many white pines die before they even get their roots in the ground. Keep young, bareroot tree seedlings cool and moist right up to the time they are planted. When you receive your tree seedlings, check to make sure the roots are moist. If they are especially dry and crackly, return them to the seller. If they are somewhat dry, wet them down and try to plant them as soon as possible. If you need to store them for a few days before planting, keep them in the package they were shipped in and place in a cool, well-shaded spot that allows for some air circulation around the package.
During the planting process, make sure the tree roots are kept moist and are not exposed to periods of sunlight and drying. Even a few minutes of exposure to a light breeze on a sunny day can kill the roots (and the seedling).
White pine seedlings can be planted using a spade, shovel, or planting bar. Make sure the hole is deep and wide enough to allow the roots to spread out and fully extend downward. Avoid shallow or small holes, which will cause the roots to ball up, twist, or J-root (ends of roots point toward the sky and may even stick back out of the hole).
As you are planting, make sure the trees are planted at the proper depth. If you look carefully at one of the trees, you will see a natural transition between the root and stem. Plant the trees to this depth.
Once a tree is properly positioned in the hole, pack the soil in gently around it to remove air pockets. If practical, water the tree to settle and moisten the soil. Tug lightly on the tree once planted. If it comes out of the hole easily, you will need to pack the soil more firmly.
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