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container grown or burlap?

Posted by aggierose Tx (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 12, 10 at 18:38

We will be getting our Bur Oak replaced with another Bur Oak soon. I'm going to wait until Oct to plant the new tree to hopefully give the tree a better chance. The first Bur Oak that died was grown in a container and the roots appeared to be really root bound. When I replace the tree, should I request a tree grown in a container or in the ground? Which way is better? The new tree will be about 10-12 feet tall, so it will be a large tree. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: container grown or burlap?

If you can watch it being dug and balled, I'd do that.

Dan


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RE: container grown or burlap?

I'd go with the b&B even if you can't watch it being dug given the problems you've had. Just as long as it was recently dug (in the fall). You can tell by looking at it, no weeds growing out of the root ball, no protruding roots, adequate size rootball for tree. (10" per inch of caliper). Nothing inherently wrong with containers, they can be convenient but field grown is better in my opinion and you don't have to worry about it being pot bound.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Where do you live? I may help you if you live around here. I know a few places that sell even better stuff than B&B trees.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Hi Lou,

Thank you for the offer. I live in Prosper, just north of Frisco, but we have to go through the same landscaper who installed the trees for the builder since they are the ones who guaranteed the trees for a year. I have no idea where they buy their trees from, but maybe I could request a certain place if I knew of one. I told the landscaper I wanted a field grown tree and he wanted to know why. He said that container grown trees do better than field grown trees. I just thought I would get the opinions from the "experts" here before I gave him my final decision.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 12, 10 at 23:11

Container grown stock often has a better chance of survival the first year (during the guarantee).

B&B (at least for larger stock) has a better chance of doing well long term.

Sounds like your builder either doesn't know trees or is much more concerned about getting through the guarantee period than he is about getting you a decent tree.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

I actually disagree with brandon on that. Container grown tree stock can be much more challenging to keep alive, even in the sort term. All of that fibrous root surface area and super congested root ball are two reasons.

Many growers, however, like to deal with container stock and so do landscapers, for many reasons: they are easier to maintain at the nursery, they weigh less per caliper inch, are easier to transport, and tend to be more attractive to consumers.

Healthy B&B material is the way to go, I've learned over many years. Of course, how your landscaper handles such a heavy specimen might be questionable, if he isn't familiar with dealing with them. They shouldn't be muscled all over the place by the trunk, or bounced off the back of a truck because they don't have proper equipment. And they can't dangle the tree trunk by a chain to haul it around. A good B&B nursery will deliver AND plant their own stock.


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Re: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 12, 10 at 23:41

The average early (first year) mortality rate of properly grown (not potbound) container-grown nursery stock is lower than B&B nursery stock.

The reasons include significantly less transplant shock and ability to endure more neglect due to an already developed complete root system. For larger stock, B&B is often better for the homeowner but not for the guaranteer.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

My experience is with SMALLER transplants. Given a choice I pick container grown but not to the size its root bound.

The largest container tree I've seen that I was happy with was a 3 to 4 foot tall about 1 inch diameter Crabapple. Now most of the others I've seen were at Lowe's lol.

Root pruning for burlap makes me nervous but so do pot bound trees.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

What about Chambersville Tree Farm? Seems it's close enough? They do sell container trees but they use specialized type that is designed to root prune producing superior root system. It's in Celina. I've been there and they look pretty good. They use Roottrapper white fabric bag - http://rootmaker.com/system_aboveground.php#jump - I personally love them. I've grown trees in them and they had very nice root system. Much better than the ones grown in traditional smooth sided container.

http://www.chambersvilletreefarms.com/


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RE: container grown or burlap?

10-12 feet sounds like it would be on the small end for b&b stock.
I know there's no minimum size for b&b per se but I've never seen availability at a tree farm of b&b stock smaller than about 1.5" That would be on the small end for b&b and on the high end for a container.

So if you need a reason to tell your landscaper, and frankly you shouldn't have to explain it because he's probably just going to argue with you anyway, tell him:
Field grown stock on a tree that size would have a healthier root system, less likely to be pot bound or have circling roots or dead roots from summer stress.
And A healthy root system is key.
The native soil used in b&b is better to make sure water drains properly and roots extend outward from the soil ball. Container soil is just so cozy you see. Not only that, if it's clay soil, it retains water more than the soil used in containers. In your climate that is a good thing.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Gardinggrandma - I know of this tree farm not far from where I live grows trees in knitted fabric bags in the ground. Much better than B&B. A lot more fibrous roots rather than several thick roots being severed. http://rootmaker.com/system_inground.php#jump

Getting the bag off was the hardest part though. So many roots stuck to the inner side of the bag....


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RE: container grown or burlap?f

lou, I've only purchased one tree in a bag like that (it looked like the root wrapper container on that site) and it failed. Obviously I don't think that's enough experience to comment on the bags so I won't. I think it's more important to find a grower that focuses on quality and good cultural practices and using one of those bag systems is no guarantee of that.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Thanks everyone! I would love to continue to hear everyones opinions. I am definitely leaning towards B&B because I am almost certain my Bur Oak died due to being severely rootbound. I can see the roots and they are all wrapped around and around the trunk. I did read online that bur oaks have large tap roots which make them hard to transplant in a B&B situation. Does anyone know if this is true? The tree should be a 3.5 caliper so I am a little worried the tree will be old enough to have a very large root system that would get disturbed when transplanted. I will definitely ask about the nursery in Celina. That is right down the road from us.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

10-12' should be ~2" caliper, which is on the large size for a container and small size for B&B - a tree that large in a container better be from a good nursery and inspected prior to installation, and the builder should know that you'll reject the stock if substandard.

Dan


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 13, 10 at 15:21

Balled in burlap stock has often been grown in pots before being lined out in a field. Anytime containerization has been involved, deformed roots can be expected - based on the condition of the products it continues to deliver to my market, it appears that on the whole the industry just does not seem to pay any attention to the problem.

The Bottom Line
Balled and burlapped plant materials usually contain soil significantly different than that of the
transplant site.
Differences in soil texture will impede both water movement and root establishment.
Root defects can only be found and corrected if root ball soil is removed.
Proper root preparation combined with best practices for installation will greatly improve tree
establishment and survival in any landscape.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Collapsing Root Balls


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Good points but if a once containerized liner has been growing in a field for 5-8 or so years, there's probably a better chance it will start to show signs of a problem. And having less time to develop deformed roots than a tree that has been growing in a container(s) for 5-8+ years, wouldn't you then come to the same conclusion as the rest of us that B&B is preferred?


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RE: container grown or burlap?

I strongly suggest that you get bur oak grown in roottrapper from Chambersville Tree Farm. Much better than B&B and you won't have to deal with girdling root issues. That's exactly what roottrapper is designed to do plus you don't have to deal with massive root loss that you'd have to deal with B&B.

This is Montezuma cypress grown in Rootmaker container (similiar to Roottrapper). You can see how fibrous it is without girdling problem.

Shantung maple growing in rootmaker container. That's after 2 years in 5g rootmaker container to see how it does after 2 years. Not much of root girdling.

Guess which tree this is? Bur Oak! After several years, it would always shift around so I dug it up... You can see circling roots. That was a 4-5 ft bur oak grown in 3 or 5g smooth sided container. I thought I had fixed it but I didn't know how bad it was deep inside.

This is Mexican White Oak - Another one with bad girdling roots.

That's why I highly recommend Chambersville Tree Farm since it's not far from Prosper...


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 14, 10 at 1:28

Last two left in small pots too long, then moved on without correcting deformities. This is very common, in my experience. Once severe circling like this gets far enough, it may not be possible to rectify it without cutting most of the roots off.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Lou are you suggesting that using those bag containers completely eliminates any chance of girdling roots?

Have you done business with this Chamerbersville tree farm or are you just recommending them because they use this container system that you like. Or love I should say.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by ltruett Zone, 9 Houston (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 14, 10 at 14:58

I don't think Lou is saying that it will eliminate ANY chance of girdling roots, just that it will produce a superior root system to most regular container grown trees. I have used the rootmaker products and I think they do a very good job.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

B &B trees when dug only have 30% of the root system. For every inch caliber the tree is it takes that many years to establish it's self.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Where did you get that figure from? That sounds like it may based on digging too small of a root ball. 60% maybe. 30% doesn't sound right.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by ltruett Zone, 9 Houston (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 14, 10 at 23:20

This link states that 95% of roots are left in ground
http://www.utextension.utk.edu/publications/spfiles/sp572.pdf

This link states 80-95%
http://extension.unh.edu/resources/representation/Resource000596_Rep618.pdf


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 15, 10 at 0:01

Often barely more live feeder roots are present on balled in burlap than on bare-rooted stock. Typically these get left behind in the field when the stock is dug and balled.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 15, 10 at 0:14

"Where did you get that figure from? That sounds like it may based on digging too small of a root ball. 60% maybe. 30% doesn't sound right."

30% would be a HUGE root ball!!! Ltruett's figures are much more like it in most cases.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

The typical Bur Oak seedling will have 6-8" of tap root before the sprout breaks the surface. The tap root has often grown thru the 5 gallon pot by end of summer if the root can find a way out of the pot. This occurs when planted in a pot full of blackland clay top soil, one of the worst potting soils ever. This tree typically grows the root first then the top. Unless root pruned, this tree grows a definite taproot.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

There are better nursery growers than others, some use rootmaker products and the difference is without question... a more fibrous and adaptable, root-system. To continue with what scotjute said, an Oak will always (any) re-grow another tap-root... that's coming straight from the horses' mouth itself, Author Guy Sternberg, Oak expert and personal friend.

Dax


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 15, 10 at 13:41

Dax,

Do you have more specifics about what Guy said about taproots? I'd be interested to know. From my experience and understanding, regrown taproots are quite a bit different than the typical original taproot.

Too bad Guy isn't still on Gardenweb. He still participates in newsgroups I belong to, but it would really be great if he was back on Gardenweb.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 15, 10 at 14:01

You always want to move something on well before it roots out of a pot, taproot or not.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Hi Brandon,

Pertaining to bboy's comment, Guy grows a lot of Oaks of course and he said that when a tap-root becomes unruly in a pot or is lopped off to some degree when field-dug, that no matter what, when that tree is planted - it will re-grow a tap-root that has no quality indifference to the original. He would of mentioned otherwise... He said you 'can't harm them' removing the entire tap-root.

Dax


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RE: container grown or burlap?

What I've read is that when cut the tap-root heals over, then typically 2-6 new roots generate near the healed spot. These roots are smaller that original taproot and grow downward diagonally from main root. When planting bareroot Loblolly pine seedlings we cut the taproot all the time if the roots will not fit into the hole. Of course its better not to have to cut the taproot, but its better to cut the roots to fit the hole properly than to have roots curving back up or to the side.
This is in small seedling trees. With bigger trees, its got to hurt cutting a taproot. Best done in dormant period so roots can heal and less stress on tree.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 16, 10 at 13:51

Yes, I thought cutting tap roots changed architecture of root system but have not looked into it. Would also think that cutting roots when tree dormant would be time when roots least likely to start covering wounds.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 16, 10 at 23:43

I mentioned the taproot thing to Guy in an email. He says he always tries to keep as much of the taproot as possible "as long as (it) can be straightened out and not planted with a big, girdling curve or kink." One of his comments included, "don't be afraid to whack it back some as long as you leave a lot of the carbohydrate storage volume (of the taproot)."

Guy mentioned that he frequently prunes back the taproot on young seedlings to encourage branching when the seedlings are being grown in containers, and, that cutting below a fork in the root structure, where possible, is preferable to cutting above the fork.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Gardeninggrandma,

I simply liked Chambersville Tree Farm for what they're doing plus it's very close to where the OP lives. I was trying to save the OP any money and griefs. I have no ties with that tree farm in any way at all.

Are you familiar with Dr. Carl Whitcomb's work with rootmaker stuff at all? He spent many years doing experimenting to find a way to optimize root system growth without root problems that you see everywhere. I don't see what the problem is. I am only trying to help out because I've experienced how crappy some of tree farms did and I got tired of it.

It's a serious hobby of mine that I often give out trees to people for free just because I just want to learn how it works. Taproot is not really important anyway unless trees grown from seeds in the ground on their own for survival in the wild. I only share with people with what I've learned. That's all.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

I thought I would post a follow up. A guy from the nursery who planted my Bur Oak just stopped by to look at it. I walked him to the backyard and I was shocked to see new growth on the tree! Turns out, it didn't die, it just went into major shock and all of the leaves turned brown and fell off. The good news is that the landscaper is happy to replace it because he agreed that the root girdling was very bad. He is willing to bring me a B&B tree and we will probably do it in Dec. He is also willing to look at getting the new tree from a nursery that I suggest. I'm shocked that the Bur Oak is coming back because I haven't watered it a single time since I thought it had died. That was at least 2 weeks ago, maybe 3. And, it's been over 100 degrees everyday here in Dallas! The landscaper said he will keep the tree alive once he takes it back from me, which I guess means he is going to try to sell it to someone else. He did say that he would fix the roots to keep it alive.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 27, 10 at 12:54

Cool deal! I'm glad the guy seems so willing to work with you. These days you just never know what to expect from deals like this, and it's such a relief when things work out.


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RE: container grown or burlap?

Bur oaks are tough trees.

Story: In the prairies, oak seedlings would sprout, then the tops get killed in a grass fire. And the root would sprout. And the tops get killed in a grass fire.

Along comes the long term climate cycle (The Palliser triangle has frequent decade long cycles of drought and abundance.) The oak tree, now with a large root, would shoot up, and get it's leaves above the worst of the grass fires, put on some heavy bark. At this point, it was golden. Little could harm it.

Picture the settlers coming in by the trainload in 1910.

Coolee bottom land with a bunch of oak saplings. "That will be easy to clear," they think. But at the bottom of each sapling is a 20 year old root.

It's not dead until it's two years dead.


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