trees in 5 gallon buckets

tn_jedNovember 30, 2008

hello, I am looking into getting a membership with the arbor day foundation and for (I think) 10 dollars or so they send you 10 trees, well i know where i want them but they are really small when they send em to you about 1 foot, which is no problem but since there is 10 i don't think i wanna plant them until they get a little bigger. I want to drill drain holes all over the bottom of some 5 gallon buckets and plant them in buckets for awhile till they grow up a bit so ther a lil bigger when i plant them so i don't run em down with the brush hog and it gives me plenty of time to prepare the planting holes. i was thinking i could grow em in those til they get like 4-5 feet or until they outgrow the buckets i am just not sure if this is possible ive never done it before ife planted bare root 1 foot trees in the ground but never in a bucket, I'm wondering how long it would take the roots to fill the bucket and would i need to put them in a warm area when the temperature goes down to 20 for a few weeks??? anyone ever done this with like dogwoods and similar trees i will get a list of the trees cause i know they all grow diffrnt

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Before you place an order with the Arbor Day Foundation, you might want to do a search in this forum to see what experiences other people have had when joining (buying trees from) this organization. You search might help you avoid disappointment later on.

So far as your plan about growing the trees in 5 gallon buckets, here are a few thoughts. Many types of seedling trees can be grown in a pot of this size for a year or so with good results. Trees that grow more fibrous type root systems make better subjects for this treatment. Be sure to plant the trees out as soon as you can so that they don't become rootbound and experience problems later. Depending on the type of tree, 4'-5' trees may be a little too large for this size pot. When you plant the trees out, carefully inspect them and root prune if necessary to avoid girdling roots and a rootbound plant. Burying or mulching around the pots can lessen the problem of cold weather. Trees that are hardy to a couple of zones lower than your actual climate's zone will fair much better in pots than those only marginally hardy for your area.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 11:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if your purpose is to donate to Arbor day.. go for it..

if your idea is to plant trees... its a waste of money ...

regardless... they should NOT send them.. until proper planting time ... which is probably next march ...IT IS NOT TREE PLANTING TIME IN ZONE 6 ....


    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 1:18PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Ken, I slightly disagree with you. I do agree these won't be of the same quality or uniqueness as the $25 a piece trees I've taken to ordering from Forrest Farm and other nurseries. Like he says it's ten bucks and they are a charity and you DO get trees. If you keep in mind these won't be named cultivars (like the most blue blue spruce or reddest Red Maple you've ever seen) you'll be happy.

On the Arbor Day website it says they'll ship in March if you order now. Was just looking at it the other day with a friend.

I have no idea how Arbor Day makes money off this $10 for 10 tree membership deal. I like charity dinners and the like where you just don't mail off money for nothing though. One of my friends got 12 trees for $13.50 by adding onto her order.

Probably the easiest thing to do is stick the 10 lil buggers in a flower bed whenever you get them. Pots have all sorts of management issues from drainage to compacted soil (have to use weird non soil like potting mix), to hot roots in the summer and frozen roots if you don't buy them in the winter.

I dug a big hole to kill competing grass then planted mine in the ground right where I wanted them. Then I put some chicken wire around them to protect them as much from my weedeater and mower as animals. My success rate is right around 50% with their trees but that counts some Sequoias which just don't seem to like it here.

Lets see if I have some pics of my 02 and 03 plantings handy....

Dawn Redwood ppl have to be sick of me posting pics of

"red" maple

06 pic of my arbor day japanese maple...can't find any newer ones

Here is a link that might be useful: Arbor Day shipping info

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 2:04PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Tn Jed,

I strongly suggest that you look into purchasing Smart Pots to grow small seedlings in for the next year instead of smooth sided container. The result would be much better root system development and better growth. Also you need to go over to Container Forum to read up on Al's Mix for the container but I suggest 1 part screened pine bark fines, expanded shale and peat moss for smart pot containers. for info on smart pot. to purchase smart pots. 3g size is minimum size that you should purchase.

I'd suggest that you also get Dynamite 18-6-8 fertlizer (9 months) but i don't know if your local Lowe's or Home Depot has it.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:29PM
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Arborday's record of sending inviable trees is pretty heavy with complaints. But I don't even think people should donate under the current Arborday regime. They get address lists from such organizations as burgess, and I wouldn't doubt it that arborday and burgess get their trees from the same dumpster at the back of some nursery. lol

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

its all about the ability of the buyer...

the neighbor lady .. bless her soul ... made the donation ... and promptly stuck them in the fridge.. since that is what the instructions told them to do.. go figure on that ...

i got them from her the next day ... and told her the fridge is not the place for them.. period .... she said she didnt really want them.... and i said i would experiment with them ...

it was probably 4/1 or so ...

i took a one gal pot.... with a mix of 50% peat media and 50% wood chips.. and proceeded to plant them all bundled together, jammed into one pot .... and then leave them on the driveway, in the shade on the north side of a structure for the rest of the summer.. they got very bright light.. and direct sun for the last 2 hours of the day ... and watered whenever the whim struck.....

9 of ten budded out ....

i left them there all summer.. bringing them to the north side/front of the house in fall.. meaning to plant them.. but never getting around to it.. they are going out to the barn for winter ...

i got them to live.. i presume many of us 'experts' can make them live ...

but the bigger problem is that 'we' usually wont buy stock from such.. the Arbor D buyer is usually a novice .. who with all good intentions... has no clue what they are doing... they want to save the earth .... but they really dont know how to properly plant a tree ... nor how to properly pot a tree... nor how to care for either ...

if said person wants to succeed ... we are here to help ... and can do so .... within certain parameters ...

there is a right way to do it ... for some semblance of success ..

1. lower expectations ... i.e. consider the source of your stock to begin with ...

2. timing is everything with tree/conifer planting ... that is early spring or late fall ...

3. no plants belong in a pail of water or in the fridge for any extended amount of time ...

4. proper planting.. is an art ... a bit more than digging a hole... and includes mulch

5. and proper aftercare is IMPERATIVE .... they will need to be properly watered for 2 years ....

so.... jed ... if you want to go for it... we are here ... make the donation .. and do a new post in february .... and we can get you going then ... a few weeks BEFORE they arrive ....

does your ground freeze?? .... and when is the approximate thaw date .... for me in zone 5... we expect thaw around the third or 4th week of march ... and that is planting time .... hope to 'talk' with you then ...

and if they arrive.. before the soil thaws .... first thing to do.. is call and make a complaint and demand replacement.. should they fail ... and then we will discuss potting them up.. holding them in the pot.. ONLY until the soil thaws ...

working in pots .. is one of the hardest things to perfect .....

good luck


    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:11AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Previous threads about the Arborday Foundations have indicated that the quality of what you get is related to which local supplier sends the plants and the time of year. Apparently the Arborday Foundation contracts out growing, shipping, and inspecting their stock to different local suppliers. So, it may not be all about the ability of the buyer.

Also, based on the screenname of the original poster, I'm guessing he may live in Tennessee. If so, and he had trees to plant, right now would be a perfect tree planting time. Shipping trees this time of year might be less than advisable, but planting them would be no problem whatsoever.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:43AM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

I donated to Arbor Day. Got my 10 free "sticks"(trees). I don't plan to renew my membership.

Its good if you plan to be at the property for over 10 years and if you dont need a tree right away. They ship you 2 foot sticks(seedlings). Almost pointless when you can just buy a nice healthy 5' tree for $15 at a home center.

If you have over an acre of property, then go for it and forget it for years. I love planting trees but its not worth the time and donation with Arbor Day.

What is nice is the booklet with tree descriptions and choices.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 7:42AM
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Ah, but most home centers have extremely limited selections of the same cultivars that all the other big box home centers carry.

A better compromise would be to order from a reputable online nursery, such as Oikos or Mail Order Natives.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 12:26PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

quercus, thanks for the nursery names to check out. Has kept me busy on line for a few minutes!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 9:41PM
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You may not want this advice, but if I were you, rather than ordering small seedlings just to plant them in buckets, I would plant them immediately in the ground. They will grow twice as fast and be twice as happy, most likely. I've run into and observed a lot of problems from container-growing trees, all sorts of issues with messed-up water tables due to the confines of the space to being too prone to drying out when the owner forgets to water, etc.

My opinion is, you're much better off planting in the ground, fertilizing, adding mychorizzae, mulching, staking and surrounding with a small chickenwire guard than you are planting in a container. The tree will be better off for it.

You can also get seedlings for VERY cheap from a few places, they are shipped bare-root or as compact "plugs" in the spring (shipping before late march doesn't make much sense).

Check out the university of idaho's mailorder nursery seedling list:

or check out this nursery: (they're based in michigan and I've order before from them, many times).

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 1:31PM
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