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Seedling Planting Directions & Safety Notice

Care for your seedlings

Open seedling package immediately upon receipt. Do not destroy the shipping box or bag. They can be used to carry trees to the planting site. The package should be opened, inspected and the plant roots moistened with water. The roots need to be damp, not soaking wet. Trees should be planted as soon as possible. They may be kept up to one week in an unheated basement or other cool enclosed area at 33-50˚F (33-40˚F is optimum). Please see the packing list included with your order for more detailed planting directions.
  • Do not expose the roots of the seedlings to the sun, wind or air. Dry roots can be fatal.
  • While planting, keep the roots moist in a bucket or bag with a wetted medium such as sphagnum moss, planting gels/crystals or shredded paper. Do NOT submerse your seedlings in water.

Transporting Your Seedlings

  • Protect your seedlings from the drying effects of the wind by transporting them in a covered vehicle or by covering them with light-colored tarp.
  • Park in the shade to avoid excessive heat and drying.
  • Unload your seedlings and move to a cool area as soon as possible.

Storing Your Seedlings

Seedlings should be planted immediately after receiving, however, should storage be necessary
  • Open bundle and insure roots are moist (not soaking wet). If dry, add water to the roots only.
  • Store at 35 - 40° F for up to two weeks.
  • Store in a basement or other cool enclosed area at no more than 50° F for up to one week.

Site Preparation

Reducing competition from existing vegetation for 1-2 years after planting is essential to your seedling growth and survival.
  • Where there is heavy sod or dense weed growth, plow down sod, scalp sod with a mattock or spade, and apply herbicides according to label instructions.
  • Where there is crowding or overtopping vegetation, use mechanical removal such as hand- or chain-saws and/or apply herbicides according to label instructions.

Planting Method

  • Planting bar: Preferred by experiences planters because of its speed and efficiency. Harder to assure a proper planting depth. Must be especially careful not to leave air pockets around the roots. Works in any soil type.
  • Posthole digger or auger: Works in sandy or loose soils. Can prevent crowded roots. Easier to plant large-rooted hardwood seedlings. Should not be used in heavy or clay soils because of the tendency to get a “pot-bound” effect.
  • Shovel or spade: Slower, easier to assure proper planting depth.

Safety Notice

The goal of the Howard Nursery is to provide you with the finest tree seedlings available to improve wildlife habitat. All of our stock is inspected annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

This information is being distributed as a courtesy to use caution in the prevention of an uncommon infection. Seedlings, along with most types of organic matter, may carry a fungus known as “Sporotrix Shenkii” which could cause the disease “Sporotrichosis” also known as “rose gardener’s disease”. Sporotrichosis is a fungal infection that is easy to prevent and treat if caught in the early stage of development. It may be found in sphagnum moss, soil, humus, organic fertilizer, mushrooms, hay, bark, wood, flowers, especially roses, leaf litter, pine needles, sawdust, seedlings, and even cacti. The fungal spores enter the body through puncture wounds or small cuts, cracks or nicks in the skin. Spores can also on rare instances, become airborne, creating a risk of infection by inhaling the spores. The infection Sporotrichosis causes begins as small red, pink, or purple bumps on the skin that resemble a pimple or bug bite. However, these lesions do not respond to normal treatment and are often misdiagnosed as other infections such as staph. If you have a minor infection that is not responding to treatment, you should see a doctor and inform him/her that you have been handling seedlings and may have come in contact with a fungus which can cause the disease known as Sporotrichosis.


  • Everyone working with seedlings should protect their hands and arms by wearing protective gloves and long sleeves.
  • A dust mask is recommended to prevent inhaling the fungus spores.
  • Wash hands and other exposed areas of the body often using an anti-bacterial soap. (Be sure to wash at each break and definitely when finished working with the seedlings for the day.)
  • All scrapes, cuts or puncture wounds should be thoroughly cleaned and treated with a disinfectant such as Tincture of Iodine, then bandaged and kept clean.
  • Be sure to follow all of these steps to prevent infection. If you do develop any lesions that do not respond to normal treatment, be sure to see a doctor and insist on being tested for fungal infections.