If you are like most people you wonder, why can't I just plant a bare root tree? Or, "I want a balled & burlap tree!" Well you can, but listed below are some reasons why they may not do as well.
Bare root trees are usually 1 to 2 years old. The survival rate goes down the older the bare root tree is, so planting a bare root tree older than 2 years is risky. Our potted trees are mostly 5 to 6 years old.
Planting a bare root evergreen in the field or yard is cheaper, but the loss rate typically will be from 30% to 90%. Proper watering plus animal and weed control is essential for their survival. Bare root trees need to be planted in the spring and watering every 7-10 days the first year is essential. One bite from a deer or rabbit or failure to care for seedlings the first 3 years will kill most bare root evergreens planted.
The big benefit to our potted tree is that it is older and has an established root ball. The tree has been grown in a soilless planting medium and properly fertilized and watered. The root ball has well-established roots that are ready to spread into adjacent soils once planted.
A balled & burlap tree is a field grown bare root tree that is then dug up and the root ball is covered with burlap. These trees will be heavier than a potted tree since the soil is heavier than the planting medium used with our potted trees. The balled & burlap tree is stressed when it is dug and its roots are cut. With a potted tree the roots are not cut.
In this picture is a 2 ft Norway Spruce potted in a 3 gallon container that had been grown in a pot for 2 years. Along with it is a privacy screen planted using 2 yr old bare root Norway Spruce. They were planted in the Spring, 7 years prior to this picture being taken. The Norway Spruce, after 7 years, grew 3 to 4 feet tall. 300 trees were planted and the loss rate was approximately 30%.
In this picture is the same 2 ft Norway Spruce potted in a 3 gallon container that had been grown in a pot for 2 years. In the back of it is a privacy screen planted using 2 ft potted Norway Spruce (same as what you see in the pot). This privacy screen was planted in late Summer, 10 years prior to this picture being taken. The Norway Spruce after 10 years are 12 to 16 feet tall. 76 trees were planted and the loss rate after 10 years is 0%.