Thread: potting trees

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  1. #1

    potting trees

    I just got my first tree & I was wondering if there were any tips for potting trees. I live in an apartment and do not have any land but I do have plenty of space for a "pot garden". can I start my trees in pots and eventually move them to bigger pots and then the ground...?


  2. #2

    RE: potting trees

    We do not recommend potting trees due to the fact that the success rate is very, very low. Please plant them in the ground somewhere according to the directions that you received with your trees. You won't need too much space.

  3. #3

    RE: potting trees

    why is the success rate so low? which I guess leads me to my next question...why can you buy potted trees at stores? have they been started in the ground and then put into pots?

  4. #4

    RE: potting trees

    Trees have huge root systems--far bigger than any reasonable pot could hope to accomodate. (Note that Japanese bonsai take advantage of the adverse effects of restricting the root system to create visually stunning, but highly deformed, trees.) Even a small sapling can have a root system that goes several feet down and spreads out over several feet. The trees you can buy in pots in stores fall into two categories: Either they are being held in pots temporarily, until someone can take them home and stick them in the ground. (In fact, for transplanting, "bare root" trees--ones that haven't spent time in pots, do better than those which have been raised partly in pots.) Or they are specific species which have been bred to be happy in pots. (Frequently, members of this second variety are actually shrubs which have been pruned to have the shape of trees.)

    Even neglecting the root problem, it is unlikely that your apartment gets enough light to keep a tree happy.

    Lastly, trees really do need the annual cycle of seasons to thrive, although I'm not sure just how big a problem the lack of such would be.

    I applaud your desire to have a tree sharing your living space! This certainly is a noble goal. But it's just not going to work. You can certainly try it, but you're most likely going to wind up with a dead tree, and that would be unfortunate.

    Good luck!

  5. #5

    RE: potting trees

    Also, the plants you buy in the stores in pots have been potted by highly trained nursery professionals using the proper soil medium and stored in an environment conducive to growing. Commercial potting soil is for house plants, annuals, succulents, and so on. Almost everyone who pots his or her Arbor Day trees ends up calling us for free replacements. Unfortunately, we don't offer free replacements on trees not planted according to the instructions which accompany them.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
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    Oct 2004

    RE: potting trees

    I haven't had the bad luck that apparantly many people have had transplanting bare root trees into containers. I've done this with more trees than I can remember without problems. I wouldn't rule it out as impossible but one thing is for certain, caring for trees in containers is a big pain. You gotta keep your eye on them constantly like having a pet fish. They dry out faster in container so after a few days of rain you might forget about them. You'll need to use a very big container and a tree that doesn't have aggressive roots and something that can tolerate living in a container and grow slowly enough so that it will last you a long time in your container garden. Japanese maple comes to mind. Weeping willow would be an example of a tree that would do poorly in a container. I use a mix of native soil and potting soil mix. There's also the issue of weather. They get hotter in the summer and colder in the winter in containers so it really has to be tolerant of this kind of stuff.
    There are dwarf trees, just rattling a few off the top of my head here, dwarf ginkgo, dwarf katsuratree, many many dwarf conifers.

    Are they going to last forever? No. But you could learn and experiment and setup a nice container garden and if the time ever comes where you move somewhere where you have a yard, you may very well have some fairly sizable trees by then to stick in the ground.

  7. #7

    RE: potting trees

    quirky & laserboy, I appreciate all of your opinions and advice! I might experiment and see what happens... although it would be great if one of my friends would loan me a space in their yard. and don't worry pwk...I won't be calling for any free trees.

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