Whenever you dig up and transfer a growing tree, considerable stress is placed on its roots. This stress, unless minimized, will have an impact on the future growth and health of the plant. Minimizing the stress starts with choosing the source material for tree transplants.
The type of source material is one of the most important factors that will determine whether a tree flourishes in its new location or dies out in few months.
There are several types of transplant source materials to choose from, including container-grown, field dug, bare root, and balled and burlapped. Each production method is described below, to help you decide which to choose for your next tree transplanting project.
Container-grown plants are grown in a pot or container over a full season or more. This method offers the big advantage of preserving all the roots within the container. It minimizes injury to the roots and limits the possibility of transplant shock. A container-grown plant maintains almost 100% of its ability to absorb water and nutrients immediately after transplanting.
These container trees are usually small and easy to handle, even for growers and home gardeners who do not have large equipment. However, deformed roots may form as a result of the prolonged period in the container. Such “rootbound plants” have entangled roots that take the shape of the inside of the container. The roots must be loosened a bit before planting to prevent the condition from limiting future growth.
Field-dug tree transplants are first grown on a field and dug out, either with soil still attached to the roots, or as bare-root plants. They are then placed in containers and displayed for sale. The best field-dug plants have been allowed to spend a full season growing in a container before they are sold. However, it’s more often that plants are dug-out and placed immediately on display. The best growers will allow the roots to acclimatize to the new container before selling the plant.
Bare-root plants are easy to handle, store and ship. Most of the roots remain after harvest, and are trimmed as needed. To maintain health and minimize transplant shock, bare-root plants should be planted while they dormant. Large bare-root trees intended for landscape projects need to be staked when they are planted.
Balled and Burlapped Trees
A balled-and-burlapped tree is grown on the field, and dug out, retaining as much of the roots and attached soil as possible. The root ball is then wrapped in burlap and tied with twine. The best tree transplants have large intact root balls, which helps minimize transplant shock.
Large-sized landscape trees and bushes are harvested and sold as balled-and-burlapped plants. Water use and potential for root recovery are essential factors for a successful tree transplant. Balled-and-burlapped trees do best when moved in the early spring, fall and winter.
Machine-dug trees are large trees that are dug out using a tree spade, and then moved to a different location. This method often requires hiring an expert tree service company with the right equipment for the job. An experienced professional will ensure that the root ball remains intact as much as possible, to maximize the tree’s health and recovery after the transplant.
These are just some of the sources of tree transplants available for growers, landscapers, and home gardeners. An expert tree service company will be able to provide more information and the equipment you will need for your project.