Seedling Sales and Giveaways in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.
Ordering opens on March 7, 2022 at 9am. Plan to order that morning while supplies last! Orders are picked up on March 31 or April 1, 2022.
Visit the "Free Trees" page for information on spring and fall distributions.
Seedling giveaways to students in the Dominion Power catchment area: www.projectplantit.com
Arlington Tree Stewards and Parks and Recreation give away free trees in the fall to Arlington residents. In addition, the Tree Canopy Fund accept applications in the late fall and spring.
Arbor Day Foundation
For a $10 membership fee, receive 10 flowering tree seedlings.
How to plant tree seedlings
Starting with seedlings is the best way to obtain healthy plants, but these babies need careful attention for the first couple years. General planting instructions can be found here. A few points need emphasizing:
Get bare root plants into the ground right away. If that is impossible, heel it in temporarily.
Water. Be careful not to overwater, but it is essential to give the roots a deep soaking every 7-10 days for at least the first growing season. (Once established, and if sited correctly, native plants do not need supplemental watering.)
Clear the ground. When planting in lawn (which is a great idea, given that lawns are worse than useless to the ecosystem), you need to kill the grass first. Popular methods include digging it up, or smothering it with cardboard or newspaper covered by mulch. Do not let the mulch touch the plant, though! Cardboard works well but complicates watering until it decomposes - see point #2.
Protect from critters. It is sad to pay a visit to your plant and find no trace of it. Deer, rabbits, and voles may do it in. ‘Repellex tablets’ planted with the plant are said make it taste bad to deer and rabbits. Regular spraying with repellants are wise until the plant is established. A circle of wire fencing will protect it from deer (and can protect it from rabbits if it is sunk into the ground). If you are planting in a very natural environment, you could consider planting in pots to allow the trees to get bigger for a year or two. This is not ideal - transplanting is hard on trees - but it allows you to protect them from animals better. You will need to be extra careful about watering.
Choose the right site. Trees create shade, but many of them won’t grow in the shade! For instance, Redbuds and Pawpaws are shade tolerant, but the seedlings of many other trees in the forest will have to wait years or decades for an opening in the canopy before they start shooting up. Shortleaf pine requires full sun. Check out light and moisture requirements here.