Return to the Trees Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Bare Root or Potted?

Posted by notes (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 24, 14 at 17:00

Saw a tree I�m interested in was available locally potted and also (cheaper) online shipped bare root. Thoughts? It also said "When shipped as a bare root plant, the Shake&Ship system will be used to remove soil from the roots, thus increasing the root tip surface area, which in turn, greatly enhances the ability of the plant to rapidly establish itself in the new environment". I don�t know what that means. Educate me, please. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

there is nothing wrong with a DORMANT bare root plant ...

and odds are.. the potted one.. was bare root a month ago.. before it was potted for retail ...

its all about timing... and getting it in the ground.. 4 to 6 to 8 weeks.. to get teh roots working ... before it leafs out ...

you dont tell us where you are.. so i cant comment on timing ...

many mail order bare root;.. are held refrigerated.. until mailing.. meaning you receive them fully dormant ...

the rest of your fancy typing.. sounds like marketing words... lol .. how the heck else are you going to get the soil off.. message it.. crikey.. you shake the plant .. stick it in a box and mail ...

see link on how to plant a tree ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Thanks, Ken. We live in Iowa near Cedar Rapids. Zone 5 I think.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

I came across thus video researching a similar subject (warning... it is just over an hour long and the first few minutes are filled with common webinar technical difficulties), but I think it really captures all of the poor practices in how container trees can be risky to plant when they were not properly taken care of in their early years.

The webinar also contains general planting instructions surrounting planting depth for bareroot, container, etc... Very eye opening and educational if you have an hour to spare :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Webinar: Specifying and Selecting Quality Nursery Stock with James Urban


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Thanks! Would it make any sense to remove the dirt from a potted tree so I could check out the roots & then bare root plant it? Nobody stocks bare root around here. I’d have to order sight unseen.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

I have heard of this (its called rootwashing - see embeded link) but never tried it. It seems like most of the experts disagree on exactly what to do when planting container grown trees but, but the general consensus is to shave about an inch off (instead of scoring vertical cuts with a razor blade) on all sides to eliminate the circling roots. .... see link below

http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/remove-side.shtml

I would definitely find the root flare before you plant a container grown tree so you set it at the correct depth, but it can be hard to see how bad the roots are circling without removing the container.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Rootwashing Technique


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

longtee,
That was an excellent link you provided. FWIW, we have had some discussion of root washing to bare root of actively growing trees before. Many of us in the south east US are of the opinion that this can be problematic in our climate. The sun is simply too strong, and margins of error too thin. As example it may be 35-40F this morning, and near +/- 80F with lots of wind and intense sun this afternoon. This is a COMMON scenario in early to mid spring, and can easily kill many new transplants. Therefore I limit this to dormant plants, and certain times of year.

Arktrees.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

didnt the link i gave up top.. have instruction on bare rooting trees????

in my z5 MI ... very similar to your 5 IA [i have hosta friends out there] ... you can plant .. bare root.. thru about late april ... bulletproof but for PROPER watering for 2 years ...

so in a normal.. year.. that is the 6 to 8 weeks before the real heat of summer hits ... starting in july or so ...

its never really too early to plant DORMANT zone appropriate stock.. IF THE SOIL IS THAWED ....

and thru may with more tlc ... amybe a sun screen.. etc ...

its all about how fast ma nature decides to get mean...

a leafless tree has very little water needs... its when it leafs out.. that trouble can start .. so we want to get the roots pumping long before it leafs out ...

i have gotten a couple hundred trees and conifers in the mail .. its no big deal.. i am not aware of any local suppliers of bare root ... they can charge more.. by filling a pot with media.. and sticking the bare root it ....

in my sand.. a big wad of peaty potting media.. can become a watering nightmare.. the sand actually wicking water out of the peat.. and once dry it might never rewet ... so i bare root everything...

so whether you need to do it... depends on your soil ... clay can be even worse.. if nondraining.. and it might cause the peat to hold too much water ..

so the default is to.. always plant such in native soil ...

and the hardest part of all that.. is to understand... there is a proper planting season.. or two.. for you.. early spring.. and late fall ...

just because you buy something in july and august.. does NOT mean.. its a good time to plant it... you hold it over until the next proper planting season ...

thats as many cliches as i can put in one post... lol

see link.. note i am going from native soil to native soil ... but one shake of that plant.. and the process would basically be bare root ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Occasionally, I will rootwash a plant grown in a traditional container (as opposed to a root-pruning container like a Smart Pot or rootmaker) to ensure the root system has no circling roots and a good root flare. Only in very early spring (like now) or after Octoberish or so into late fall (by which time it's either dormant or almost dormant).

Other times of year, I might wash just enough to see the rootflare and check for circling as best as I can without removing too much of the dirt.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

I always wash the potting mix out if the plant is dormant. Most of that stuff is nothing but ground up pine bark and it will dry out much faster than the surrounding native soil.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 25, 14 at 14:29

Shaving the outside of the ball/mass and doing nothing with the inside is pointless, as all it will do is cut off the new feeder roots without addressing the circiling/knotted/wadded older roots inside that are what threaten the long term success of the specimen.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Good point bboy, although I don't really agree that it is pointless to shave off 1 inch without addressing the older roots. It seems pretty clear that if there are issues in the container grown root system that are hidden from a previous container size and its now larger circling roots, then the tree is likely to be impacted some day in the future.

As is the case with many tree planting practices there appears to be some conflicting information as to what to do when planting a container grown tree.

The University of Florida page includes information published by Edward F. Gilman, who suggest that the 1 inch be removed (and backs it up with years of data and studies) but also suggest some correction of previous container defects at the time of planting. - copy and paste the links below

http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/circle-removing.shtml
http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/containers.shtml or

Another individual James Urban who is a published author on this subject discusses this specific point in the youtube clip I had posted earlier in this thread. Here is a link to the point in video where shaving the root ball is discussed (this discussion ends at the 36 minute mark.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB_rlOYkXOQ&t=32m20s

He acknowledges that in addition to removing at least 1 inch of soil from the circling roots prior to planting, many experts suggest that previous years issues be corrected. He makes a good point that doing so may very well guarantee the death of the tree and suggests that it not be done unless you want to greatly risk the initial survival of the tree. (Something to consider prior to deciding how to plant a container grown tree)

Unfortunately there are few if any good solutions to dealing with container grown trees at this time since it seems as though the great majority of nurseries do not correctly root prune them when transferring to larger pots, or keep them in the wrong sized pots for too long. This is the result of uniformed consumers shopping where they can locate trees at the lowest price. Even if the root ball is one giant circling mess, the consumer will not realize this since the tree will not die immediately but instead will girdle/slowly die many years down the road or may in extreme cases fall over during a storm long after the 2-year warranty has expired.

I wish Bare Root trees were available to consumers, but I have never been able to locate any that weren't between 1-3 feet in size and required shipping.

Thank goodness for the internet, and its wealth of available information. Even if much of it is conflicting and inaccurate, there are still good sources to turn to for information that is backed up and supported by well funded universities and others in the nursery business who have actually studied these practices and statistically measured the success and failure rates of the various techniques they recommend.

In my early days (a few years back), I used to just plant container trees per the recommendations on the Lowes/Home Depot tag which resulted in trees buried too deep, circling roots and planting holes that the wrong size and shape!

Sorry for the long post :)

Steve


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

There are some aspects of this topic that can be too easily overlooked and some terms that could easily be mixed up. I will point out a few of them...

Saying that a tree is potted doesn't really tell enough of the story. It could be a container-grown tree, a tree that was potted after being removed from a growing bed or field, or a plant that was temporarily placed in a pot, for holding, after being recently dug. Much of the commercially available container-grown stock has significant root system issues that should be addressed at planting. But, whether such issues exist, depends on the technique and skill of the grower and/or nursery.

Shake&Ship doesn't really have an official definition, but likely means that most, but not all, of the growing medium was removed. There are at least three advantages of this. By removing most of the medium, shipping can be much less expensive. Also, by removing most of the medium (whether before shipping or just before planting) the root system can be examined for deficiencies before planting. The advantage of leaving some of the growing medium attached (mostly the medium actually being used by roots) is that there is potentially much less root loss and transplant shock as compared to situation where all of the medium is removed.

Root washing is where all (or almost all) of the growing medium is removed. IMO, there's little advantage in going to this extreme for the plant. A larger percentage of the root system can be lost and transplant shock can be significantly greater as a result of this technique. Drainage will not be greatly improved by washing as compared to shacking. Of course a big caveat of the shacking v. washing debate would be that growing medium/soil type may make one method more practical.

Whether or not shaving the outside of a rootball is advantageous, depends on the specifics of the situation. If the tree's root system has been properly prepared when potted up, there may be no internal defects in the rootball. By shaving the outside layer of roots off, future girdling roots are removed and new roots are encouraged to grow out from the rootball. There are potential problems. One is that most nursery stock has a high potential for internal defects, and another is that the potting medium is likely to be very different than soil at the planting site, which could lead to drainage issues. BUT, doing something could definitely be better than doing nothing. Another technique, which might be slightly better than shaving (although maybe not much) is vertically cutting into the sides and bottom of the rootball. Doing this might have the potential to address a few more defective roots than the shaving method. This is a common practice for commercial landscaping. If the roots aren't badly potbound, circling roots might even be able to be teased out and left intact.

My preference, in most situations, for pot-grown woody plants is the shaking method. In some cases, especially for shrubs, I use the vertical cuts method.


 o
Re: Bare Root or Potted?

Longtee, thanks for the James Urban video. I just got through watching it and found it to be a good review for specifying nursery stock for the landscape architect.

I'm not sure how to say exactly what I'm thinking, but I don't think the video is meant to address all aspects of the root washing v shacking v shaving debate. Different situations call for different solutions, each technique has its advantages and disadvantages, and advising an individual on planting a single tree or a few trees is quite different than writing specifications to be carried out by nursery workers and landscaping laborers. Although Bboy's approach and the video may seem to represent extreme opposites, I think both approaches see many of the same problems and approach it from different prospective.

Well, I still haven't managed to really say what I wanted to, but I guess I'll just say that there really isn't a one single best solution for all situations, and, a happy-medium approach (shacking with some root-system correction when appropriate) may be a good approach for the individual that knows enough to make the proper decisions when doing the work.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Yes, there are so many different techniques out there I'm sure that one size does not fit all. I will have to check into some of the other methods you have mentioned as they sound very interesting.

I am glad that there are so many experienced people on this forum that are willing to share their experiences and expertise!

Steve


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

Would a smaller container tree be less likely to be root bound than a larger one - or is the answer obvious? Continue my education, please. Thanks


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

My understanding is that regardless of the size of the container trees can be root bound. For example I ordered two 1 gallon elm trees in the Fall of 2013 and when I went to plant them, the roots were so long and and circling that a few went around the entire root ball 1-2 times. It was quite shocking, and unexpected. I had a fun time loosening them up and trying to stop the circling pattern from continuing after planting. For any stock that was not sold in 2013, there is a possibility that the nursery would simply move that same tree into a 3 or 5 gallon pot in the Spring of 2014. If they corrected this issue prior to moving to the large pot, then there would not be an issue with hidden circling roots within the larger sized container.

Upon purchase and inspection, If the roots had did not appear to be circling or otherwise defective in the larger 3 or 5 gallon pot, it would appear that you had a good healthy tree. If it had you discovered issues and corrected them by cutting off the outer edge of the root ball or used the slicing technique, while this would correct the issues with the outer roots, however, the problem that was created by circling roots in the 1 gallon pot (if no corrected prior to moving into the larger pot) would still remain.

This is my basic understanding, so others may have more insight into this may have better ways of describing. Hope this helps.


 o
RE: Bare Root or Potted?

So to further apply what Longtee said to differences in container size, you could say that the larger the pot, the more compound the issue is likely to be. And, besides the compounding (layering) of the problem, you also have the potential for a more difficult correction. Smaller tender roots can often be manipulated/teased/straightened out. Larger root systems have larger more rigid roots, and fixing them can be more difficult.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Trees Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here