Are there nursery stock minimum standards for root balls?

729zoomJuly 18, 2013

I purchased 4 plants and a tree from a private nursery. Nothing smaller than 5 gallon sizes were available and I now wonder if I actually got 1 or 2 gallon plants put in 5 gallon containers.
I have transplanted all but one plant and, despite the extreme care taken to carefully remove them from their containers, the soil just fell away from ALL of them; very little established roots to speak of and the opposite of what I normally run across where the roots have started circling the container and the root ball comes out of the pot in one solid ball.
I am not sure if any of these plants will survive or not but feeling ripped off, as these were not cheap plants. Anyone know if there are minimum standards for the size of root balls of plants and trees sold to someone as a particular size?

This post was edited by 729zoom on Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 21:40

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alan haigh

I have never heard of any kind of legal standard- seems like it would be unenforceable. You do have grounds for complaint and refund if it is a legitimate business. This late in the season the soil should not have fallen away although certain species don't do a good job of holding on to soil, such as pears.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 5:04AM
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spartan-apple

I can answer this one since I work at a nursery. The big problem is lack of standards. Years ago when all plants were sold bare-root or balled and burlapped, shrubs were sold by height.

Now most shrubs are sold by container size. No indication of height is usually given. I once got some shrubs in from a grower in #2 and #5 containers. The same type of shrub. The #5 were higher in price but actually were shorter than those that arrived in the #2!

Were I work we grow and sell lots of plants in containers.
The grower should not ship out anything not rooted in enough. I would ask for your money back from wherever you bought them or get replacement plants. Shame on them.

Yes when growing plants in a #5, sometimes growers upshift a #1 to a #5 container. We do it all the time.

Balled and burlapped plants have fairly strick rootball standards but the ANLA nursery specs for container plants really needs some improvement.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 10:48AM
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729zoom

Thank you so much for the information spartan-apple. I really appreciate it. I am going to ask for replacements and will never buy from this place again, as I have never, never had this happen. Even the pear tree I got from another nursery had a very well established root ball and the other plants I got were on the root bound side. I prefer that over nearly all the soil (with weak roots) falling away any day.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 11:20AM
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729zoom

for some reason the above message posted twice and could not figure out how to delete the duplicate.

This post was edited by 729zoom on Fri, Jul 19, 13 at 12:40

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 11:21AM
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729zoom

I just happened to find these links showing that there are root ball standards in other states. New Jersey is very specific. See page 12 at this link: http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/jerseygrown/marketing/jgstandards.pdf
I read another one for Colorado that is similar and can see here: http://www.coloradonga.org/perch/resources/co-nursery-act-rules-regulations-8-ccr-1203-5.pdf

Isn't it time (if there isn't already one but I can't find anything) for California to do the same?

This post was edited by 729zoom on Fri, Jul 19, 13 at 12:42

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 12:38PM
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