The first consideration in selecting a plant is size.
The tree size should be in proportion to the container or root
system. Do not select the largest or smallest plant in a row.
The plant should be vigorous and healthy with no
evidence of insects, disease, cultural problems, or wounds. The
tree's natural form should be maintained with well_spaced and
arranged branches. The trunk should be wider at the bottom than at
the top. Foliage, if present, should be evenly distributed in the
upper two-thirds of the tree, not concentrated at the top.
Select trees that were grown locally. In general,
plants grown in a climate similar to yours will adjust quicker and
perform better. Also, if you are starting a new landscape, plant
several different sizes of trees to lend immediate variety and
Transplants can be classified into three classes
according to the way they are dug and/or shipped: bare rooted,
balled and burlapped or boxed, and container grown plants.
Bare-rooted plants have had the soil washed or shaken from their
roots after digging. Nearly all are dormant, deciduous trees. Most
mail-order plants are of this class because plants in soil are too
heavy to ship economically. A good many tap-rooted plants, such as
nut trees and some fruit and shade trees, are handled this way
because they are not amenable to ball and burlap or boxing.
Bare-rooted plants are also those available in nurseries in early
spring with their roots wrapped in damp sphagnum and packaged in
cardboard or plastic containers. These need special attention
because their roots are tightly bunched up in unnatural positions
in order to force them into the package. Discard the sphagnum
packing, and be sure to spread the roots out to a natural position
before they are planted.
Plant bare-rooted trees while they are dormant. Fall
planting is well suited for these plants. Never let the roots dry
out. This is perhaps the single most important source of failure
in planting bare-rooted plants. Keep roots in water or wrapped in
plastic or wet paper until you are ready to place the plant in the
hole. Remove damaged roots or stems before planting.
Balled and Burlapped or Boxed & Balled and
B&B and boxed plants are likely to have been grown in nursery
rows for some time and to have been root pruned to keep the root
system compact and fibrous. Such plants reestablish themselves
rapidly. This method is primarily used for plants that never lose
their foliage and thus are not amenable to bare-root treatment
(e.g., broadleaf evergreens and conifers of all types). A number
of deciduous trees and shrubs have branching root systems that are
easily contained in a soil ball; these are also sold as B&B or
B&B or boxed plants may be planted almost any time
the ground can be worked. If planted in summer, plants will need
special attention to keep them adequately watered. When selecting
a B&B or boxed plant, be sure the ball is sound and hasn't
been broken. Avoid plants that feel loose in the soil balls. Be
sure the soil ball does not dry out. These plants usually need
very little, if any, pruning at planting.
Plants are often grown in the container in which they are sold.
Their appearance often misleads gardeners into thinking that all
they have to do is set the plants into the ground and forget about
them. However, these plants need the same careful planting and
maintenance; proper watering is critical. Keep rootball moist
Their roots have been enclosed in a limited space and
may be coiled around one another in the container. Avoid container
grown plants that have roots emerging from the drainage holes at
the bottom of the pot or with roots that have coiled around the
Prior to buying a container grown plant, remove it from
the pot and examine the root structure to ensure that it is
appropriate for the size of the pot and plant. Avoid plants with
roots that have outgrown the container and thus have been forced
to circle the perimeter of the pot. This could lead to girdling
and the eventual death of the plant.
Generally, younger/smaller plants will cost less and
establish more quickly. Container-grown plants can be planted any
time the ground can be worked.