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MDC to offer free tree seedlings


Representatives of the Missouri Department of Conservation Ozark Region will be among the scores of exhibitors at this year’s Home & Garden Show.

Patrons are invited to stop by the MDC booth, No. 605, to pick up free tree seedlings. From 3 to 8 p.m. March 1 and 9 to 5 p.m. March 2, agents will have shortleaf pine, black oak and Ohio buckeye seedlings to give away, as long as supplies last.

Seedlings should be planted as soon as possible after receiving them. If immediate planting is not possible, MDC recommends storing seedlings in a bucket half-full of water, taking care not to immerse their roots, or wet packing material such as moss. Roots should not be allowed to dry out.

Keep seedlings in a cool, shaded place, ideally between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and protect them from freezing. If they must be stored for more than two weeks, MDC recommends placing them in a trench in a shady, sheltered area and temporarily covering their roots with soil.

To plant them by hand, dig a hole as deep as the root system and plant the seedlings at the same depth they were growing at the nursery or slightly deeper. Be sure to dig the hole wide enough to allow the roots to spread, and make sure roots are not bent or crowded. Finally, pack the soil firmly around the roots to close out any air pockets. To test if the soil is packed enough, grasp the top of the plant and pull gently upward. If the seedling comes up easily, the soil is not packed firmly enough.

MDC advises planting should occur when the ground is not frozen or extremely dry, or conversely, excessively wet and sticky. Avoid leaving open bundles of seedlings exposed to the elements: Remove only one seedling at a time and plant it immediately.

For more about seedling care and planting, visit mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/tree-seedlings.