Whitcomb - Nursery Practices 3




This is where the marriage of techniques comes in . . .

  1. Place the root ball in an above-ground container, surrounding it with a good container growing medium (mix) that contains micronutrients and slow-release fertiliser of a form that will last roughly six to eight months.
  2. The new mix around the root ball insulates the fibrous, concentrated root mass in the soil ball for the rest of the winter in most areas of hardiness zones 6,7,8 and 9. Some additional protection may be needed in more northern areas depending on the date of planting in containers. The center of the container, with the roots in field soil, holds water and nutrients well. The mix around the outside provides drainage, oxygen and an excellent environment for root growth. Water the trees normally.

  3. Complete the task of shifting plants from the field to containers BEFORE spring buds swell.

  4. When spring bud swell occurs, a surge of new roots will extend from the root ball of field soil out into the container mix.

  5. In north-central Oklahoma, trees pulled and placed in containers in February or March are rooted out and generally ready to sell about one month after leaves emerge.

    Let's spell out the advantages

  1. Establishment in the container does not require many months or a full growing season: it is far faster if mix, nutrition, watering and weed control are properly managed.

  2. This procedure provides the quality of top that can only be achieved in the field, but does so with the convenience and mobility of plants grown in containers. Best of all, you have exceptional quality trees to sell all summer.

  3. Because the expensive large containers and soilless mix are purchased only at the time of harvest, you do not tie up valuable dollars for long periods of time.An even more economical alternative is to use the RootBuildertm container which continues the air-pruning process through a honeycomb of openings throughout the sidewall, yet is very easy to remove at the time of planting into the landscape, and can be used over and over again.

  4. No heavy equipment or tree spades are necessary. A 30 hp. tractor with front loader or three-point lifting arm will provide all the muscle you need.

  5. Because the roots have not been in the container for years, the circling and deformity pitfalls of conventional containers are less of a problem.

  6. Growing trees in the field in the knit fabric grow bags, then establishing them in containers before sale provides the maximum of energy for root growth. Plant trees grown with this procedure into the landscape during May through September (even the hottest days of August), and by the following summer the trees are established. Losses are few, stress tolerance is high, and customer satisfaction is excellent.
  7. At the present time this is my favorite way for growing trees, and trees are available for sale when demand is greatest. The nursery industry needs to focus on selling shade in the summer when shade is a motivation to buy. Likewise, the best time to offer flowering trees for sale is when they are in full bloom. Using this growing procedure, that is perfectly possible. As one recent convert said, "The thing that convinced me was when we loaded large crapemyrtle trees in full bloom in August, planted them in the landscape and they never quit flowering. The customer thought we were magicians."

  8. I am not saying that other nursery procedures do not work, but there are degrees of success and varying levels of return for your investment. After years of experimentation, I have found the way that suits me and has given nothing but great results.

    Carl E. Whitcomb, Ph.D, is president of Lacebark Research, Stillwater, OK

    Back to Table of Contents

    1 | 2