Tips For Planting and Caring For Seedlings

Before Planting

Promptly pick them up from the post office.  You have no control over the conditions in the post office or your community mailbox.  Bring your plants home as soon as you can.

Thaw them completely.  Your plants may still be frozen when you receive them.  If this is the case, keep them in a cool, dark place until they are thawed thoroughly.

Keep them moist.  This means keeping your plants away from heat and blowing air.  If the roots seem dry you can submerge them in water for a few minutes.  (Plants need oxygen – do not submerge them in water for more than 2 hours.)

Regulate temperature.  Do not allow your plants to go through drastic changes in temperature.  Keep your plants out of direct sunlight and do not allow them to refreeze.

Keep them wrapped in plastic.  It helps regulate temperature and will prevent your trees from drying out.

Plant them as soon as possible after they are thawed.  The sooner you plant them the better your plants will do.

Take extra special care of them on the day of planting.  Dig your holes before you bring out your plants.  Ensure your plants are completely thawed.  Plant one bundle of plants at a time (keep the others closed up in the shade).  Do not lay your plants out beside your holes and let them bake in the sun before you plant them.


Planting is either done behind a spade or with the aid of a mechanical planter.  Plants should be placed about 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the greenhouse.  Seedlings should be packed firmly and irrigated immediately.  Plants should be spaced 3ft apart in the row, with rows 16ft – 20ft apart. Remember, Saskatoon berry plants will grow 8 – 12ft wide.  For example, an orchard 16ft x 3ft would require about 900 plants per acre, while spacing of 3ft x 20ft would need 725 plants per acre.


Select your site.

  • Do not plant into pots or plant with the intention of transplanting
  • Ensure your site’s climate zone is appropriate for your seedlings
  • Never plant into frozen ground
  • Make sure that your seelings will have adequate room to grow.  Buried services, power-lines, other trees, and other nearby objects may limit where you can plant
  • Ensure the soil is not too wet or too dry for your seedlings
  • Be sure that your site receives sufficient sunshine

Prepare the area.

  • Remove any grass or weeds within at least a 30cm (12 inch) radius of where you will be planting.  If the soil is compacted, consider loosening it up by roto-tilling, cultivating, discing, or digging with hand tools.  If you are planting a large number of seedlings you may want to prepare your site a few days before you receive them.

Dig your hole.

  • For bareroot stock you need a hole big enough to ensure you can arrange the roots naturally in the hole (not curled around the bottom or pointing back at the surface).
  • For container stock you need a hole big enough to accommodate the plug at a minimum.  It is better if you loosen and mix the soil at least several inches in all directions and eliminate competition near your seedling.

Amend you soil (optional).

  • You may add bonemeal at the bottom of the hole to enhance growth.  Add the amount prescribed on the package and mis it thoroughly with the soil at the bottom of your hole.  You can also help your seedling grow faster by mixing potting soil into your hole if the ground is particularly tough.  If the soil is dry you can water the hole now.

Plant your seedling.

  • Ensure the risk of major frosts is in the past.  Likewise, do not attempt to plant a frozen seedling.  Place the seedling in the hole with the stem standing straight up and with the root collar at ground level.
  • For bareroot seedling ensure the roots spread out and are arranged in a natural downward orientation.
  • For container seedling ensure the plug is not bent or curved and that there is no space between the bottom of the plug and the earth below.

Water and fill the hole.

  • Moisten the soil and fill your hole back in around the roots.  Press firmly on the soil around the stem.  The roots should be completely covered.  Be sure the first branches of the seedling are not covered.  Make a tree well for water and soak each tree.

Protect your seedlings from pests.

  • You may need to take special precautions to keep deer, rabbits, mice, and other pests away from your seedlings.


Correct watering takes common sense and discipline.  The plant is a living thing and they need water every couple of days until they “take root”.  You would not give a puppy a weeks worth of water and then nothing for a week.  The same is true of a plant.

Water the area.

  • Water thoroughly after planting but do not drown your seedlings if the soil is poorly drained.  Once you have initially watered your plant you need to water every 2 days for the first 6 weeks.

Heat watering.

  • Newly planted seedlings cannot draw moisture from surrounding soil beyond what osmosis can provide.  We strongly recommend you water your plants directly, immediately, and often.  Think of soaking the root, ot wetting the surface.  The water must sink in.  Plant to water every 4-6 hours.  Irrigation systems programmed for normal maintenance are not sufficient.


Field Preparation

Saskatoon berries are a very adaptable plant and will thrive in most soil types and within a wide PH range. On this page, we share helpful tips on caring for your Saskatoon Berry Seedlings. The soil should be free of perennial weeds and tilled to a depth of at least 6″.  This can be achieved with the use of the herbicide Roundup.


Although fertilizer requirements vary from area to area, it is important to ensure adequate phosphorous is applied as a preplant.  We recommend the formulation 11-55-0 at a rate of 125-300 lbs/acre.  This can be spread on the surface and worked into the soil and caring for your Saskatoon Berry seedlings by providing fertilizer will be appreciated by your plants.

Mulches / Weed Control

Many different mulches can be used to reduce moisture loss.  Polymulch, a .2mil 3ft wide black poly, is a very effective mulch when used in conjunction with drip irrigation.  Other natural mulches such as straw, sawdust or wood shavings are also effective.  Trifluren is registered as a preplant, and both Linuron and Casoran are registered for established plantings.  READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL PRECISELY AND CAREFULLY.


Irrigation is an absolute if you are thinking of maximum yields for your berry orchard.


Any type of irrigation will work, but realize that your need for irrigation is not only for plants survival, but to maximize yield.  Drip irrigation is seen by many as the answer to irrigating orchards on the prairies, as water is often at a premium.  Drip irrigation places the water at the base of the plant.  It is an efficient and very cost effective manner of irrigation, and can save up to 90% of the water used in conventional methods of irrigation.


Saskatoon berry plants will bear fruit in the third year.  We recommend you remove the blossoms and let them grow as vigorously as possible.  The fourth year you can have a reasonable crop and near the seventh year you can reach full production.  The fruit ripens in July depending on the year and average yields per plant range from 5lbs to 35lbs per plant.  Plant density in your orchard will have an effect on the yield.  “You pick” is a popular method of marketing with prices ranging around $3.00 per lb.  Processing and canning opens many new markets.

Caring For Saskatoon Berry Seedlings