Planting fir seedlings requires a bit of planning: first you must prepare the soil in which the trees will be planted and then you must ensure that the seedlings themselves are ready for the transition. After the seedlings are situated, you must continue to care for them by monitoring their water levels, looking out for temperature changes, and warding off pests. Planting is not usually nearly as hard as the preparations that necessarily must go into making the operation a success.
The first thing you should do when getting ready to plant fir seedlings is to do a bit of research on the kinds of trees you are working with. There are many different types of fir trees. While all share certain things in common, they each tend to have their own independent preferences and ideal growing conditions. Take some time to learn about whether your trees prefer shade or sunlight, for instance, and pay attention to how wide their root systems grow in maturity. Knowing how hardy the roots are and how well the trees adapt to cold is also helpful.
Unless you have raised your fir seedlings yourself, they will likely come with their roots bundled together and tied off. Unbundling the roots is essential, but must be approached with some degree of care. It is usually a good idea to spray the roots with water to help them relax and untangle. Seedlings started at home can usually remain in their original soil during transplant, but ensuring that the soil is very moist will help the young trees come out of their seedling pots and transition into the soil.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to planting seedlings is to make the hole about as deep as the seedling is tall. The roots should rest comfortably on the bottom of the hole, but all roots and shoots should be covered completely. Only the “neck” of the seedling — the area directly above the root collar — should be exposed to the elements.
The soil must be very moist when you plant fir seedlings, no matter the time of year. Seedlings generally do best in either the spring or the fall. Summer, when the ground is dry, is never recommended as a planting time. If the plants do not receive a lot of moisture from their new surroundings during the first few months, their roots may never grab hold, which can lead to stunting or seedling death.
Water irrigation is also critical to growing seedlings with any success. Not enough water and the roots will dry up and die, but too much and the trees will grow saturated and sickly. Most professional nurseries and garden centers plant pine tree seedlings on raised irrigation beds to allow proper drainage. These can be expensive and time consuming to build, but their effects can be replicated by creating trenches alongside seedling planting areas. Trenches will catch and divert water run-off.
Fir seedlings, like most plant seedlings, can take months if not years to really start growing. The majority of fir varieties will reach very large sizes in optimal conditions, though this can take some time. If you are planting numerous seedlings, it is important to keep their spacing in mind. Most of the time it is best to leave between 7 and 9 feet (about 2–3 m) between seedlings. The same amount of space should usually be left between seedlings and homes and other structures, as well.