Evil Scotsman
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Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

I am looking to plant some shade trees in our yard. Budget is a little tight so I am THINKING of buying smaler trees (younger) and starting them out in containers on the patio. Options I am thinking of are Sweetgum, Sugar Maple, Japanese maple Pink/White Dogwoods. My wife and I really like trees that turn red/orange in the fall. Once we have a definite plan for the yard and the trees are a little more mature transplanting them to the yard. Would starting them off in pots/containers a good idea? ABOUT how long would they be able to stay in the pots before HAVING to transplant!

Thanks!!!
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How long can a sapling stay in a pot?

Unlike some of flippant answers I've given; If you use very fast draining soil mix, and repot every couple years--three-four hundred years.

No really, read up on soil mixes in the bonsai forum here.

High fired calcined clay can be a PITA to find. Granny-grit (brand name) is a crushed granite poultry scratch that is nearly ready to use straight out of the bag. Shredded bark mulch is for sale at every big box store everywhere.

Mix together one to one by volume add a little Osmocoat pellets, and your good to grow.

Pots & saplings I would scrounge for free-cheep on craigslist or free-cycle.

FWIW bloodgood red-leaf Japan maple seedling volunteers should just be waking up in philly. Bring along a zip lock bag with a damp paper towel in to protect roots when you go foraging... Look underneath the biggest examples you can find for babies.
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rainbowgardener
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Yes, if buying very small trees, starting them in containers is a good idea. I get the baby trees very cheap from Arbor Day foundation, but they are little whips, a foot or two tall and slender, with little branching. I stick them in two gallon pots with a mixture of topsoil lightened up with some potting soil and keep them in my tree nursery, where they are handy to water and tend for a year or two, until they are more grown out and ready to handle life on their own in the ground. I've got 6 new trees in the tree nursery right now, and one from last year that I'm going to plant as soon as I get a chance (hopefully this weekend).
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Don't bother with sweet gums or you could be surrounded by their seeds and newly sprouted plants. I hate them with a passion. You must remember though when planyting in pots you cannot rely on Mother Nature to supply nourishment, you must interject.

Evil Scotsman
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Different types of soil/dirt/??? Help?

What is the difference between potting soil/peat/top soil/ ????? What do I want to put in a 2 gallon pot for trees?
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rainbowgardener
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Top soil is earth, similar to what you could dig out of your yard if you have good soil. Potting soil is top soil, plus peat moss, plus vermiculite and usually some fertilizers and other additives. The idea of the potting soil is to be light and loose and fluffy and not compact down in your container. Peat moss is part of what they put in potting soil. It is very absorbant, holds water well, so it keeps your plants from drying out.

Top soil is the cheapest to buy, if you are buying bags. For large containers that you would put trees in, you can buy a bag of top soil and a bag of potting soil and mix them together. Or again if you have good rich dirt in your yard, you can dig some up and mix that with some potting soil.
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Handsomeryan
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I'm not sure I understand what the advantage to growing in a pot vs just planting the small trees in the yard is?

In pots you'll need to water daily during the summer and work out a fertilizer program to encourage healthy growth. You'll also need to figure out a way to keep the pots upright as they _will_ blow over if not supported. Finally, once you get ready to plant the trees out there will be a certain amount of transplant stress that would have been avoided had you just put the small trees straight into the ground.

I'm not saying you can't do it because you certainly can, I just don't understand why you'd want to?
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Re: Different types of soil/dirt/??? Help?

Evil Scotsman wrote:What is the difference between potting soil/peat/top soil/ ????? What do I want to put in a 2 gallon pot for trees?
To begin with, unless they are indeed very tiny, I don't think your trees will do very well in 2-gallon pots for very long. The exception would be if you plan to use bonsai techniques, such as root pruning, to keep them small. Even an ordinary tomato plant requires 5-gallon container.

Potting soils are designed to drain rapidly, to prevent the roots from staying wet too long, which can lead to root rot and kill the plant. Some potting soils don't even contain "soil" but are made up of other materials -- coir, perlite, peat moss, gravel/grit, sand, etc. -- to enhance drainage. "Peat" is peat moss -- usually sphagnum peat moss -- which is often added to increase the acidity of the soil and to retain water. "Topsoil" is the top layer of soil on the ground, usually containing a lot of humus, i.e. decaying organic material.

And I happen to love sweetgum trees. I think they have the prettiest fall foliage of all the trees in my neighborhood, and I don't mind the little seedballs at all. To each his own. ;)
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Sweetgum trees with their cluster-bomb fruit. :x for me and double :x for my dogs' feet. Ugh. Bleah. Etc.

Re. trees in containers: When we lived in Berkeley, our entire LOT was 25' x 50'. There was a house and a detached one-car garage, plus a driveway and a concrete patio, on this lot. We "gardened" on the rest of it. Not much square footage. The house faced west onto a four-lane, divided street, and there was an apartment building immediately to our south, putting a lot of our soil into shade for most of each day during the whole year. :(

However, *part* of the concrete patio--most of which was under an avocado tree--received approx. 6 hours of sun most of the year. So we went in for some heavy use of containers.

One of these containers was dedicated to a four-fruit, grafted apple tree in a half-wine barrel. (Yes, I know: it's a half-barrel that used to host wine, but it's called a "half-wine barrel." :? ) We didn't get as much fruit from the tree as we would've liked, but we did get SOME, including a very few Gravensteins. :)

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jesslee90
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

I recently received some trees from arbor day and planted them in topsoil with nothing else added. Will this be okay for the trees? I plan on keeping them on my porch and watering them daily. Any advice would be appreciated, I'm completely new to this! Thanks. :) For reference I live in North Georgia and the trees are American Redbud, Crapemyrtle, Sargent Crabapple, Washington Hawthorne, and White Flowering Dogwood. Thanks again!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

Hi Jesslee and welcome to the Forum! I am also in No GA, just a couple miles over the line from East Ridge TN. Sounds like you might be more or less my neighbor.... AND I also just received the same bunch of tiny trees from Arbor Day foundation. As noted above in this thread, topsoil by itself isn't really great for putting in containers (you didn't specify, but that's what this thread is about and it sounded like you are planting your tree babies in containers, as I am). Topsoil is heavy and moisture holding and tends to compact in containers, shutting out air. You would do well to mix it with at least half potting mix, or make your own mix of 1/3 top soil, 1/3 peat moss or coconut coir, 1/3 perlite, with some slow release fertilizer added.
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

Thanks rainbowgardener! I planted them in about 2 gallon containers with the topsoil, and when I called they said not to plant them with any fertilizer or potting mix because they are too young? And the pamphlet reads, "Do not add soil amendments such as peat or bark. Do not use fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals on your new trees."

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

They are right about not fertilizing at least until they have leaves and are growing.

I didn't read the pamphet ( :? ), but I wonder if they were talking about planting it in the ground, which is quite different than in containers. Drainage and soil compaction are so much more of an issue in containers.

Anyway, you can follow the pamphlet directions (never hurts! 8) and I will do what I do and we can compare results. We can be reasonable control groups for each other, since we are in similar locations and climates and got the same trees from the same source. What part of no. GA are you in?
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

When Arbor Day says not to add soil amendments they mean when planting directly into the ground. The reason behind that Is when you create a pocket of good soil in a vast area of poor soil, the roots tend to circle around and stay in the good soil area. Sometimes the tree will send roots into the poor outer soil but it delays proper root growth and can kill the tree. It won't hurt to have them in pots for a year or two until they grow a bit more, but in potting soil not top soil. Top soil will compact and dry out too easily. One drawback to potting the trees then planting a year or two later is that they go through transplant shock twice. And you will have to sink the pots into the ground or move them into a protected building for the winter. (well, probably not in Georgia but further north it's usually required) A benefit to potting the trees is that you can control the amount of water, wind, and sun to which the trees are exposed. But you must check those pots daily in warm weather. They will dry very quickly.

I've done it both ways. I've had successes and failures with each. Some failures were my fault, some weren't. That being said, I've had a seed grown tangerine tree in a pot for 19 years. It still is growing and looking good. Nearly lost it a couple times due to being negligent about watering.

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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

I planted them all in topsoil in two gallon pots before I found this forum, but I went out today and bought some moisture control potting soil. Will it be safe to remove the trees from the soil and do a 50/50 mix of the potting soil and the top soil tonight? Or should I JUST use the potting soil? And will it damage the trees to remove them? I plan on keeping them on my patio then moving them to my foyer in the winter. And I am in Atlanta Ga. Thanks so much for all the help, I feel like I've found a really great place as someone new to this. :)

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

I personally would do just the potting soil. Make sure they are watered well once you switch, then water when the soil an inch below the surface gets dry. It will do some damage but not as much as leaving them in all topsoil.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

So how are your Arbor Day Foundation trees doing. Mine are still showing no signs of coming out of dormancy and I am starting to wonder if they will....
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

Oh, the Arbor Day trees! Last year potted up the 10 in 2.5 qt pots in my regular soil mix. Being a neglectful parent, just had them in with all the other stuff, and they got watered by rain or if I were doing extra. I think all leafed out. I've been checking and most leafing out again.

The new set came in and I potted up to 2.5 qt containers. Last yrs batch the smaller trees, this round the larger maples, oaks etc. Some I'll label after they leaf as not sure. I did squish the roots a bit on some, so we'll see.

Next on list is to up last years that are doing into 2 -3 gallon pots. I need to set out another pallet to hold the pots/trees and see how they flourish...or not. An interesting glitch is no redbuds last year, when marked to have 3. What is marked is something else with a serrated leaf, and they are leafing out!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

So how long should it take? Mine have been sitting in pots, watered when they need it, for almost three weeks. We've had a few nights down near freezing in there, but no frost, and lots of warm days and sunshine. They are still showing no sign of life.
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

There are lots of reasons to plant up trees in pots. I've been buying annual conservation trees for years and potting them up to give them a good start. Firstly, small nursery stock is affordable. I'm willing to wait for plants to grow. Some people want to decorate decks and patios with more than just potted flowers. Second, even if you live in an urban area, there are all kinds of hungry critters on the prowl at night, just waiting to make a snack of your newly planted shrubs and trees. Lastly, did you ever see a plant that you just know you have to have? The exact landscape idea isn't fully formed yet, but you know it'll be great? Or, maybe its a bad time of year to plant it in it's intended location? If it is in a pot, you can take proper care of it til you can get it to its permanent home.

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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

How long before they leaf out? Depends on the trees. Lilacs are just starting to get leaves here, redbuds and oaks still showing no sign of leafing. I would expect the potted trees to leaf out a little before the in-ground trees but not much sooner. I'm not sure why some take longer than others. But I can tell you summer is on the way when the sycamores leaf out. I'm still waiting on my shade.

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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

Well, here's an interesting twist for this thread! I purchased an ornamental flowering pear tree this spring. It arrived in a very long box, potted up in a very tall (10"), 4x4" pot. I potted it up in a grow bag (10 gal?) and moved it in and out of the barn when weather allowed. It broke dormancy about 3-4 weeks after potting it up. We intended to plant it in its permanent home after last threat of frost. Now I've received a warning from the nursery I bought it from about the cicada threat this coming June! I guess that tree is going to spend some more time in that pot, safe in the barn until the threat is over. Now I'm glad I didn't try to nurse it along in its original pot!

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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

I don't like moisture control potting soil. They are o.k. if you can control the watering, but if you get a lot of rain it can kill your plants.
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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

We have about a dozen volunteer sunset maple trees around our large maple tree that we had planted this spring. We would like to keep some of them through the winter and plant them when they are larger. We live in SW MO. Would you leave them in the ground and expect them to survive the cold winter, or would you put them in containers? If we do put them in containers, where would we keep them through the winter, the garage, maybe?

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Re: Growing Trees in Containers, GOOD IDEA???

If your maple tree that produced them survives your winters, so will its babies. It is clearly hardy for your zone. They are best in the ground.
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