getting trees out of their pot

jimmy21June 15, 2014

I just bought some more fruit trees and i want to plant them but im pretty sure if i try to pull them out of the pot, all of the potting soil is going to fall out. To get them home from the nursery, I wrapped the pots in plastic very tightly, so that no dirt could fall out and then put plastic over the top of the tree. I layed them down in my trailer and wrapped tarps around them. I didn't lose any dirt but they were bouncing and it losened the soil up. What should i do?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

They may have been recently planted in the pots and not yet fully rooted. If they were well rooted then some bouncing won't loosen the soil excessively. You might want to consider waiting to plant until fall. Pulling them out and having most of the soil fall off could kill the tree or at least make it hard to establish.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 10:10PM
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I do the same prep when hauling fruit trees. If the pots show to have a thoroughly root-filled "ball", don't worry about loosing a little soil when pulling the root ball out of the horizontal pot that has been slit from top to bottom in one area. On the other hand, if the roots are not very developed inside the pot and thus may not be able to hold on to the complete soil "ball", maybe you can again lay the tree/pot on it's side and cut 3 separate slits from top to bottom to make it easier to slide the pot off of the root ball. A handy bag of good potting soil can be used to fill in around the broken-up root ball. I usually stake the trees to give the roots a while to get established rather than chancing a stormy wind gust pushing the tree out of position. Good for you, and good luck.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 10:23PM
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the nursery said the trees have been in pots for about 4 months. The potting soil seems to be pretty loose by nature and just crumbles. I don't think you could compact it and make a ball with it all.

I wouldnt mind leaving them in the pots, but they are fairly small pots and i think they would dry out too quickly. Maybe i should dig a hole and put them in the hole in the pots and then plant them when they are dormant

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 10:35PM
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alan haigh

In 4 months the only healthy fruit tree that might not create a tight ball is pear. The whole point of potted plants is you can plant them any time, so plant them, make sure the potting soil is not deeper than the soil so you can keep it moist and easily check it making sure it stays moist without creating soppy soil around it. .

The potting soil should require using the tree like a club and smashing the root ball against a rock to remove it. That I don't highly recommend.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:42AM
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A lot of nurseries have changed their potting soil mix to be a lot of bark and it will never be firm. I have transplanted them where the potting soil falls away so fast that I feel like i have bare root tree. I lay the pot in its side and roll it a bit pressing on the side of the pot, then push up on the bottom and make sure it is completely loose then work it out and dump/drop it into the hole with as much potting mix as possible staying in place. I try to use dirt to create as much of a natural root structure as possible (rather then just dump dirt in). I then mulch and use a 3 point support for the rest of the year. I don't like leaving it in a pot to become root bound. Takes too long for the tree to overcome that. I have a 4yo tree that was badly root bound that is still struggling from that.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:47AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

If one waits to plant it dormant couldn't you bare root the tree? Cut off what roots necessary and straighten out as many as possible. I think I'd like that result. Given the current situation there isn't much you could do with the rootball at this time.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:54AM
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