Gardening, Jorge, Planting, Trees

Before we continue, it should be stated that while bare root and containerised trees each have their own advantages and disadvantages, they will not significantly affect a tree’s health, so you can be happy knowing your tree will one day achieve its potential. Rather, it is your own preferences regarding price and time of planting that will make an option worthwhile.

What’s the difference?

Containerised trees are supplied in containers, while bare root trees are supplied without soil with their roots carefully wrapped in plastic. Trees can only be extracted from soil when they are dormant; dormancy occurs from late-Autumn to early-Spring when the tree sheds its leaves. Depriving a tree of nutrients during Spring and Summer is highly detrimental to its health as the tree will try to grow, but be unable.

So this is where the first difference is. Bare roots can be supplied only when the tree is dormant, while containerised can be supplied and planted anytime during the year. (Although, it is worthwhile to first research the time of year a particular species best establishes itself. And, in general, it is not recommended to plant trees in summer when they grow at their fastest rate as without established roots, it may fail to establish.)

As bare roots are supplied without soil, they are lighter and cheaper to transport, which makes them significantly cheaper (30-50%) than potted varieties. Hence, bare roots can be great value for money.

Next, as bare roots grow in the ground, their roots spread out in a natural fashion, which allows them to establish themselves effectively, giving them adequate access to soil from which they acquire their nutrients. Sometimes a containerised plant’s roots have inadequate room to grow, resulting in spiralisation, whereby their roots grow in spiral at the bottom of the pot, which puts it in a poor position come planting. Although, this usually only occurs in garden centres, rather than nurseries that will upgrade a tree’s pot as it ages.

It has been argued that containerised trees are better at establishing themselves when planted as they are supplied with nutrients throughout the transplanting process. Bare roots, on the other hand, often lose a chunk of their roots when transplanted, which can lead to water stress. However, this argument doesn’t really hold up, because the tree’s roots are wrapped with compost or hydrogel. Furthermore they are usually supplied as one or two year old trees, which ensures the roots are adequate for the above-ground matter. Altogether, providing the tree is well wrapped and planted promptly, it will be fine. If you can’t plant immediately, it is recommend to leave the tree in water, possibly with the addition of liquid fertiliser.

Planting trees is not recommended in Summer, nor when the ground is frozen, so containerised can’t be planted anytime and it is recommended to buy bare roots when they are first available in November.

This leads to another advantage of containerised trees: they do not have to be planted immediately. This can be useful if you wish to gift a tree. And as containerised can be purchased whenever, you can purchase a deciduous in summer when it looks best. Furthermore, containerised are pruned so will have a nice shape on arrival. Bare roots on the other hand aren’t, which on-the-flipside can be useful if you wish to train a tree, as in the case of many fruits. Lastly, there are many options of containerised trees. One can purchase, for example, a 9 year old ornamental in 55L pot that can provide an immediate uplift to a garden.

Overall, all trees will flourish, providing they are looked after. Bare roots are cheaper and can be trained into a fan, espalier or cordon, but they are only available as one or two year old trees and can only be planted in the Winter. Containerised trees can be planted whenever, look better on arrival and come in a range of sizes, but they are more expensive and can be harder to train.

Have you decided on a bare root or containerised tree? If so, Primrose has a huge range of fruit and ornamental trees, both bare root and containerised, so please have a browse.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Gardening Year, How To, Liam, Planting, Plants, Trees

How to plant bare root tree

Planting a tree is a decision made with many, many years in mind. With that being said it is essential to give your young tree the best possible start so it can grow to its full potential. With this guide we will show you you how to plant a bare root tree, which, like most plants, requires some initial TLC.

 

Bare root trees are uprooted and sent out around November to March, while the tree is dormant. Therefore it is around this time you’ll be planting them, however, avoid days when the soil is frozen or waterlogged.  

On receiving your bare root tree you will want to plant immediately. If this is not possible then it is essential to check the roots to see whether or not they have dried out. If they have then dunk in a bucket of water for 5 minutes and then return it to the plastic packaging, making sure it retains its moisture.

Giving the Roots a Soak Before Planting

The tree’s nutrients are critical to the survival of the tree and its ability to establish itself are stored in the roots. When the roots dry out the tree will suffer severe damage and may even die. For this reason it is a good idea to soak the roots in a bucket for up to 30 minutes before planting. Equally the tree needs to breath and so leaving it in the bucket for much longer will suffocate it.

When picking a site for your tree, ideally you will want somewhere which is going to receive full sunlight and will be sheltered from harsh, drying winds. Make sure you pick a spot where the roots will have a chance to grow and spread out. If training against a wall then leave at least 1ft of space from the base of the plant.

Dig a hole with a diameter roughly 3x the size of the roots and with the same depth. If planted too deep, the lower trunk of the tree may become susceptible to disease. The graft-point of the tree should be above the soil. 

A square hole allows for the greatest root penetration and growth. Loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork and also the sides if they appear compact.

The Correct Size and Depth of the Hole Relative to the Roots

You can plant a stake by the side of the rootball to give the tree some additional support if required. For a bare root tree we only recommend using one stake as their roots are more spread out. If planted in a sheltered site it may not be required and we advise not using a stake to improve the tree’s strength and flexibility. See our guide to staking a tree.

Take the soil you have dug and mix in compost so that it is three parts original soil, one part compost. You can add some further compost to the bottom of the hole and then fill in with your soil. There is no need at this point to apply a fertiliser, you can however sprinkle around the roots with mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) to stimulate root-growth.

The Hole Filled in with Stake in Place

Place your tree in the hole and then fill in with your soil. Every now and then gently heel in so that the soil is touching the roots. Air circulation is essential so don’t compact the soil too much.

After this form a bowl with the soil around the tree and fill with water. This will ensure the water doesn’t spill off and go directly to the roots. In the first few years it is important to look after and regularly water your young tree, especially through periods of extended heat. Once the roots have grown out and the tree has established itself it will require less maintenance.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Gardening, How To, Liam, Planting, Trees

Staking tree

Staking a young tree helps provide it with that much needed support before the roots have had the chance to fully grow out and establish themselves. Staking a bare root and a containerised tree has slight differences in the method; with this guide we’ll explain how to stake both.

With that being said trees need a certain room to move if they are to develop a strong trunk and roots which provide a healthy, natural anchorage. For this reason it is important to give the tree some space to move and to remove the stakes after one growing season. Failure to do this could result in the tree snapping under pressure as it matures. If you are planting the tree in a sheltered site, you may not need to stake your tree at all.

How to stake a bare root tree

First, for bare root trees you’ll want to place the stake into your hole before you have planted the tree. This will prevent any damage to the roots. As bare root trees generally have more spreading roots they will be able to support themselves more and so we recommend only using one stake.

Stake in place for a bare root tree

Your stake should reach roughly to just below the branches, this will prevent any of the branches scraping up or snapping against the stake. You can saw the stake down to the required height after you have planted the tree.

Use a broad, smooth cord to tie your branch to the stake so not to cut or scrape away at the trunk. We recommend tying the cord in a figure of 8 to keep the tree secure but also to give it room. The ties shouldn’t be much higher than 2/3s up the trunk.

Recommended figure-of-eight tie

How to stake a container grown tree

With a containerised tree the roots are generally less spread out as they have been restricted to a pot; for this reason we recommend using two stakes instead of one.

Plant the tree first and then plant the stakes as to not disturb and break the soil around rootball. Remember how large the rootball is as it is important not to drive the stake through it as this will damage the developing root system and with some tree varieties it will lead to death.

Stakes in place around a containerised tree

Tie the steaks to your tree, in a figure of eight and the tree should now be well supported as it establishes itself. Remove the stakes after one growing season to promote more natural strength and flexibility.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Ade Holder, Current Issues, Garden Design, Gardening, Planting, Plants

Rain gardens

A rain garden in its simplest form stands as “a shallow depression, with absorbent yet, free draining soil and planted with vegetation that can withstand occasional temporary flooding”. Such gardens can be a very effective -a small scale community-led step towards preventing risks of flooding within homes and residential areas. A guide to rain gardens has been provided by raingardens.info for those interested in installing a rain garden within their property, together with further information on the benefits and effects of installing one. There are however much larger rain gardens being implemented in many urban and communal spaces.

The plants on the surface of the gardens act not only as an aesthetically pleasing aspect to the design, but as a natural flood defence to which water may infiltrate – slowing the rate of surface water build up on the roads. Beneath the surface of the gardens a water tank is fitted, which is backed up by an additional overflow pipe connecting it directly to the sewer or run off system.

These innovative garden designs have become ever more popular in recent years, as urbanisation continues to diminish our natural green spaces. This year’s Chelsea Flower Show also saw its first rain garden – designed by Dr Nigel Dunnett. His garden, named the ‘New Wild Garden’ is now situated in Gloucestershire. Here the idea of building a rain garden was promoted because not only could it primarily prevent flooding, but also allow wildlife to thrive as well as keeping plants hydrated without the need for watering as often – ideal for gardeners who prefer a low maintenance approach. Rain gardens can additionally be both inexpensive and sustainable, with Dunnett’s garden being built with emphasis on just this. According to The Guardian “many of the hard materials used to make the New Wild Garden were gathered from skips and charity shops. Insect habitats were made using old water pipes, bits of bark, drilled wood and the cross section of an ivy stem taken off a house. Dry-stone walls feature old books and toy cars, while the granite used to make the path was salvaged from outside the Natural History Museum”. Dunnett has even produced a book with Andy Clayden about rain gardens and their sustainability.

As highlighted by Dunnett’s rain garden, alongside many others, the concept itself invites innovation and creativity while remaining entirely flexible in fitting to its surrounding environment. Simple provisions still need to be considered however, such as ensuring the garden isn’t situated on too steep a slope or close to building foundations– as these factors can lessen the garden’s permeability.

Rain garden planting

Further note can be taken from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who have put together a webpage on which plants are native to, and thrive most, in each American state. This allows for gardeners to adapt to their local environments in ensuring that the plants they stock their gardens with conserve water at a level in sympathy with the shortages in the area. For instance the use of drought tolerant crops are encouraged in various states such as Arizona. When putting together a rain garden in the UK, it is important to stock it with plants native to the area, which can tolerate as much surface water as possible in order to resist flooding rather than drought. The Royal Horticultural Society have similarly put together a webpage on trees and shrubs that are native to the UK, which can be useful in considering the practical design for a rain garden.

Kent County Council will soon be implementing the very first series of seventeen ‘rain gardens’ in Folkestone, in order to combat flooding. Flooding in this area has proved hazardous in the past, where both roads, houses and businesses are vulnerable.

According to Kent County Council “this inventive initiative will increase the amount of water captured on Dolphins Road and provide storage below the rain gardens that then control the rate that water flows into the sewer. The tank lets the water out into the sewer at a much slower rate than conventional highway gullies and so won’t overwhelm the network.”

Folkestone

Southern Water has also become involved in the initiative, partnering with Kent County Council on researching further options to reduce flooding risks across the area, possibly through the installation of additional water storage facilities. However, while the implementation of these particular gardens remains more complex and high-tech, the concept of rain gardens isn’t entirely new and a return to more traditional flood control methods is becoming more common.

Flooding is becoming more and more of an issue in many parts of the UK and the world. British companies like UNDA provide an ever increasing number of flood risk assessments across the country as the need to know about the potential of flooding grows. The government and councils are rightly putting pressure on developers to make sure houses are being built in areas that are not likely to flood or are capable of dealing with flood water. Rain gardens are just one of many measures both the government and individuals should be thinking about. Not only do they look wonderful but hey provide a service to homes and those around them. Larger rain gardens like those planned for Folkestone should be employed in a number of areas to help protect surrounding properties.

Flooding

Of course, the reasons there is even a need for flood protection are many but most agree it is related to climate change. So as well and looking at mitigation devices like rain gardens it is important everyone continues to try to reduce their carbon footprint to stop things getting any worse over the coming decades.

Ade HolderAde Holder was once primarily a motoring writer but with a background in Zoology and Environmental Science as well as a deep passion for all things living and growing he found himself writing on a much broader range of topics. As well as writing on various topics Ade has also been called to speak on BBC radio on a number of topics. In his spare time he can often be found covered in mud on a mountain bike somewhere on the South Downs.

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