Frequently Asked Questions

MacArthur's Nurseries has been growing and selling plants, flowers, and vegetables for more than 50 years to New Brunswickers. Whether you have a gardening question, or want to know our return policy, please start here. 

If you need more information, or didn't find your answer, please contact us! 

Gardening Questions 

When can I start planting?

Trees, shrubs and perennials can be planted as soon as the ground is thawed and workable in the spring. Material that is purchased from a greenhouse and fully leafed out may not be hardened off and should gradually acclimatized to the outdoor conditions before planting to prevent shock. Non-hardy plants such as annuals and vegetables cannot be planted out until danger of frost is passed (late May to early June in the Maritimes) and may need some protection on cold nights early in the season. Some hardier annuals and vegetables such as pansies, alyssum, dusty miller, lettuce, peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc. will take some frost and can be planted out earlier.

When is the best time to transplant trees, shrubs, and perennials?

Established plants such as trees, shrubs and perennials are best dug up, divided or moved in early spring or fall when the plants are more dormant and temperatures are cooler. This increases the chances of survival as more of the plants energy goes into producing new roots rather than maintaining top growth and less water is lost through leaves when it is cooler and there is more moisture in the soil. Thus, the plant is less likely to go into shock.

Replant the same way you would a new plant placing bone meal and compost in the bottom of the planting hole and water regularly until the plant is reestablished.

Plants in containers can be planted at any time of year from spring until fall.

When do I prune trees and shrubs?  

This depends on the specific type of plant. In general prune shrubs that flower early in the spring such as forsythia, lilacs, bridal wreath spirea, moch orange, rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias after they have finished flowering. These plants set their flower buds in late summer or early fall so pruning in the fall or winter will remove next spring’s flowers. Shrubs that flower later in the summer and deciduous trees should be pruned in late fall or late winter to early spring with the exception of birch and maple trees which be pruned after they have leafed out to prevent excessive bleeding during heavy sap flow in the spring.

Evergreens are best pruned in late spring through summer after new growth has begun but before it hardens in late summer.

Pruning in early fall is not recommended as it may promote tender new growth that doesn’t have time to harden before winter. Remove dead, damaged or diseased branches any time of year as soon as they are noticed.

When do I fertilize and how much? 

Fertilize trees and perennials in the spring once the soil has thawed and the plants are beginning to wake up and again in mid season or after flowering has finished. Work slow release fertilizer into the soil before planting annuals and vegetables and then again throughout the season as per label directions. Heavy feeders such as annuals will benefit from regular feeding of water soluble fertilizer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

A slow release fertilizer may be applied to shrubs and perennials in the fall but quick release fertilizers are not recommended at this time of year as they may promote excessive new growth that doesn’t have time to harden before winter. Lawns should be fertilized in early spring once the soil has thawed with a high nitrogen formulation and then every 6-8 weeks ending with a fall application of winterizer fertilizer to promote overwintering of the grass and an earlier green up in spring.

When do I water and how much? 

The frequency of watering will be determined by weather conditions including temperature, humidity levels, day length, sunlight and rainfall amounts. Less frequent thorough watering is better than more frequent shallow watering as it promotes deep roots and better drought tolerance in plants. It is also better to water early in the day so that the plants have sufficient water in the hot part of the day to prevent wilting and stress. Watering at night may lead to mildew, blight and other fungus diseases as the plants staying wet when the temperatures are cooler increases the chance of infection.

Watering the soil rather than the plants themselves will prevent the spread of fungus diseases, if they are present.