Tree question?


Just curious about everyone’s preferences with growing trees. I’m wondering the pros and cons of direct seeding vs starting in pots. If you do grow in more beneficial to grow in pots for a couple years and then transplant? Just curious what everyone prefers, had good results with, survival rates, faster tree growth etc.

I'd guess it - like most things in life - depends on the situation.

If I had the equipment and thought it would work, I would think the direct seeding method would be awesome - but this would work mostly with nut trees and maybe shrubs.

If you're going w/ conifers - I'd suggest plugs - way easier to plant than bareroot and seem to have better survival. Just stick em and forget em - cost about $1 each so plant twice what you need and expect losses.

If you're going w/ apple/other grafted trees - I'd suggest the super baby route - tree tube/cages/mulch/water/window screen. These can cost $30 each so you want to make sure you get most to survive if possible.

Other bareroot shrubs I've ordered from conservation groups and you can usually get them for $1-$2 each - they need to be planted properly and if you can baby them, they will grow better - if not, you'll lose plenty - all depends on your soil/weather/deer density/other unforeseen things. Since they don't cost much, but do take more work to plant - I normally do 20-30 each year - try to baby them the first year and then hope they can survive on their own.

I've never started in pots, but know people can and do have success this way. I usually let the nursery do this part of the job and then buy them ready to plant where I want them to be forever.

Good luck.
It really does depend on your situation and environment. Are you trying to grow 10, 100 or 1,000 trees? I am trying three planting methods this year to see what happens and what works best for me. I have 25 RootMaker 18T flats so I should be able to grow approximately 450 trees in them. I built a raised 5x5 foot bed that I will be growing trees in along with a few pots. I have also already direct seeded over 1,000 swamp chestnut oak and white oak acorns. So far I have about $200 invested in the RootMakers and potting soil. Thanks to Hurricane Nate in early October that busted up local piers and docks, I scavenged the wood for the bed and it has cost me about $3 in wood screws to build. I used topsoil I got free from a friend. The acorns were free to pick up and plant. Direct planting has several hours of my time invested in it, but I am essentially done. I still need to water and care for the RootMakers and raised bed and then I still need to plant them. The survival should be better for the trees I keep and plant as 1-year-old trees, assuming the trees get rain in 2019, but the time and money invested will be higher.

Here are couple of things to read that might be of help. The first paper discusses pros and cons like you wanted.

The next paper gives a scientific review of several different planting types.

The final paper looks at the growth and survival of containerized seedlings, bare root seedlings and root production method (RootMaker) seedlings.
I've used rootmaker 18s in the past then direct planted in spring, with that said I think this yr i'm going to plant the acorn myself in a tube and let it do its thing, seems to rootmaker trees take yrs to finally get going, even if i transplant them to 1 gallons for another year.
Yeah, thanks for the articles. Like Nebraska, I’m planning to direct seed this year with a tube and see how it goes. I’m thinking the benefit of the tap root growing as intended may help with the summer heat that we have in LA.

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I grow out a handful of trees in fabric pots every year. The couple dozen i grow this way have a definite advantage over bareroot transplants. Some areas i plant i need 3-4ft seedlings on a pile of roots to rocket up there ahead of floodwaters and 8ft vegetation.