Purchasing Trees And Shrubs 101

By: Craig Jabs - May 20, 2010

For many of us, purchasing  trees and shrubs can be a guessing game.  Initially, you may think you are purchasing good quality plant material only to find it declining in the future and then in need of removal.  Here are some general guidelines to help ensure your next purchase is a success:

1. Be a wise consumer, purchase your plant material from a reputable nursery.  Only purchase trees and shrubs which are hardy to our harsh prairie environment.  Many different types of retail stores sell plant material, most of which do not have the facilities or properly trained staff to care for them.

2. Well rooted, younger plant material tends to recover more quickly from transplant shock, is more economical, and is easier to plant than their larger counterparts.  Large plants are more expensive, require more care after planting, and often grow slowly for many seasons before becoming established.

3. Before purchasing a container grown plant, remove the root ball from the container .  Inspect the larger roots carefully to see if they are twisting or turning in circles.  Circling roots often girdle (choke) and kill other roots.  If only a few roots are circling they can be cut away with a sharp knife.

4. Look for signs of good health.  A healthy plant will have good color, full sized leaves which are pliable but yet firm. It's trunk will be well developed and straight.  The branches should be evenly distributed and well spaced on all sides of the leader.  The limbs should also have firm, strong attachments with the trunk.

5. Avoid plant material with V shaped branch attachments, they tend to split apart because of their weak attachment.  Instead, look for U shaped branch attachments which are much less prone to damage.

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