Potted Too Deep

Bob317(6)July 22, 2012

I bought some 20 gallon Spartan junipers (Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan') that I intend to plant in the fall. These will be part of a privacy screen so they are important to us. They are potted in a course wood chip medium. A tag has the code B&B/#20 which suggests to me that these were balled and burlapped before they were put in the containers. There is no soil ball visible at the surface of the potting mix. I have dug down about 2.5 inches and cannot feel the soil ball. According to our local extension service (and other sources) nurseries repotting trees too deep is one of the most common things that causes trees to slowly decline and eventually die. Should i remove the wood chip medium until I find the top of the soil ball?

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Yes, you should find the top of the rootball and, more importantly, the rootflair. Planting at the proper depth is of utmost importance, that being at the base of the root flair. You are very much on the right track!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 4:14PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I'd be leery of a 20 gallon B$B Juniper. Junipers don't usually have good rootballs unless they have been dug each year, or grown in a container for at least a year.
I would tip the container on it's side and pull the juniper out and take a look at the rootball....if any. Then make a decision as to what to do.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 4:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would do nothing but 'hold over' the pots.. until fall planting time..

this is no time of year.. in most parts of the country .. heat and drought.. to be piddling around IN the root mass .. stressing the carp out of them.. and then.. stressing them again by planting them in two months.. if its just loose soil above. i dont see a problem with scooping it out.. i am talking about them having rooted into it all ...

that idea would be right up there with root pruning a plant in the ground.. now.. cutting off all its roots ... and then moving it in fall ... and that is old school thinking big time ...

i am not happy about your monoculture..

and i have gotten rid of most of my upright juniper.. because of tip blight in MI ... IF IT WERE ME.. i would return 50% of them.. and plant something other than a juniper.. every other plant ...

i would doubt.. that 2 months of too much soil is going to kill them.. just dont swamp them out ...

and then.. as above.. at planting.. insure they are planted at the proper root flare height ..

and ask if you are dealing with heavy clay ...

check out the link.. and add your state after in the search .... and find out if this is a problem for you ....

i realize it will be a PIA to return them.. but what will happen.. if 5 or 10 years down the road.. you decide they have to go???



Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:19PM
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+1 on Ken's comments above, at least insofar as not mucking about with the plants now. Being planted too deep is indeed a huge problem in the landscape industry but it is one which develops over time. And another couple of months will not make much difference provided that when you do plant, you get them right.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 10:17PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

It's Juniperus virginiana 'Spartan' instead of Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan'.

It's berries are typical Juniperus virginiana...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 1:25AM
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Ken Adrian wrote:
"i am not happy about your monoculture..

and i have gotten rid of most of my upright juniper.. because of tip blight in MI ... IF IT WERE ME.. i would return 50% of them.. and plant something other than a juniper.. every other plant ... "

Ken, I appreciate your comments and I understand your concern about a monoculture. I would prefer more variety, but there is a limited selection of conifers that will thrive here due to our secondary irrigation water which can become a little saline during dry years. Other challenges include alkaline clay soil, strong winds, and zone 6 summers and winters.

I ruled out various other conifers because they grow too large or not large enough, grow too slowly, are not dense enough for a screen, are too wide, would be at the limit of their range in zone 6, are not drought tolerant, are not available in large sizes at local nurseries, or are too prone to diseases or pests.

Junipers grow wild just a few miles from my house and in many other areas in Utah. They don't seem to be troubled by anything except wild fires, and people who remove them to provide grazing for cattle or deer.

Cultivated junipers are about as trouble-free as any conifer in this climate. If someone in the Salt Lake valley has a problem with a juniper it is frequently from root rot due to excessive irrigation, or from too much shade.

I chose Spartan junipers because we had three of them at our previous house for over 25 years--they were vigorous and problem-free except for two branches that I had to remove due to snow damage.

I'm not planting Spartans exclusively. I have also planted some Taylor junipers and Wichita Blue junipers.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 2:02PM
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There is a big difference in being planted too deep and being potted deeply. B&B stock are often sold "potted" at retail nurseries simply because it is far easier to care for the plants in this manner. The rootball remains entirely intact, as does any wrappings, and the potting medium - often a shredded bark or a bark-based potting soil - is used primarily for stability. The plants are held upright, the media retains moisture in the rootball (reducing watering needs) and they are more portable and easier to display than those same plants just heeled into a sawdust bed.

Because of the texture of the media, this is really more like a mulch than a 'soil' - lots of porosity for air exchange and for water penetration. NBD for storing B&B plants for several months, even the entire growing season.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 5:15PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey bob..

just giving you information.. and opinion ....

its up to you what you do with it ....

good luck


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 5:23PM
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