Plants grown in containers have definite advantages over balled and burlapped or bare-root plants. The roots of a container-grown plant remain undisturbed when the plant is put into your garden. There is no cutting of the roots as the plants are taken from the ground, and the plant should start growing immediately.
Theoretically, a container-grown plant should survive just as well when planted in June as in December because it does not suffer root shock. No matter when B&B or bare-root shrub is dug, there is going to be some sock because some roots are always damaged. But container-grown plants also have problems which must be overcome.
First, the soil mixture used by nurserymen is very light order to prevent root rot while the plant is growing. This light mixture dries out very quickly, and these plants must be handled carefully by the retailer as well as by yourself when you take them home. Container-grown plant material must be watered thoroughly if it is not to be planted immediately.
Second, the root systems of the plants are extensive, and the plants are usually pot-bound. When removing the plant from the container, you must pull these roots away from the ball of earth so that they can start growing into your soil rather than continuing to grow inward into this light mixture.
Third, after planting, this soil mixture has a tendency to dry out very rapidly. Soak the newly planted container-grown shrubs often, especially during periods of dry weather. Keeping the root ball damp is much more difficult with container-grown plants than with bare-root or B&B plants. Here are the basic principles for planting container-grown plants:
- Container-grown plants may be planted during the entire year. For best results, however, avoid the hottest and the coldest times.
- While preparing to plant, soak the container thoroughly.
- Dig a hole larger and deeper than the ball.
- Mix the soil as you do for B&B plants.
- Inspect the bottom of the hole and correct the drainage as you did for B&B plants.
- Remove the plant from the container and inspect the roots. Pull the outer mass of roots away from the ball with your fingers or with some instrument like the back of your pruning shears.
- Plant the same as with B&B plants, being sure that the top of the ball is slightly above the surface of the surrounding soil.
- Begin filling the hole with the prepared soil. Tamp it tightly so that there are no air pockets in the soil being packed around the roots.
- Water larger plants thoroughly when half the hole is filled.
- Continue filling the hole until it is full and water again.
- Make a collar of dirt around the outer edge of the hole to hold water. Mulch the same as with B&B plants.
- Keep the ball of earth around the roots moist by soaking, especially during periods of dry weather.
- Fertilize new plants the same as for B&B plants, except that during spring and summer planting the fertilizer should be applied at the time of planting.