Planting trees in pots is easy once you know how to do it. But should you leave the pot on? The garden center may tell you to leave the fiber pot on when you plant. They may tell you to take off the lip and the bottom, but that’s generally all.
The same goes for burlap, and the rope and occasional wire basket that hold the root ball together. In fact, they might remove the guarantee if you take these things off.
The truth is, most tree experts who have spent a lot of time observing what happens over time when planting trees in pots, burlap or wire baskets agree you should take them right off, or at least remove the majority of them. This is a case where I agree with the experts.
You probably know you should remove the big black plastic pot that some trees are sitting in, but what about the beige fiber pots?
Pots made of fiber are supposed to quickly break down in the soil, and they do if they are kept at the right moisture level and if you have the right microorganisms to break them down. If they dry out, or if the microbes aren’t there, they can take years to disintegrate. One of our organic gardening goals it to get those microbes back in the soil, but that can take time.
Planting trees in pots is not advisable because during the years they remain in the soil, they create a soil texture interface that does not let water pass easily, as does anything that is buried in the soil if it is a different texture than the soil. Sometimes this can lead to flooding in the pot and sometimes it can lead to insufficient water.
Roots might make their way through the pot, although sometimes they choose to circle around inside the pot, making an unstable, unhealthy tree that eventually dies.
Planting trees in pots is a no-no, even if the roots have grown into it. Do what it takes to get the pot off.
Find out before you buy if they will guarantee them when you remove the pot and burlap, and if they will take them back if the root system is not ready for prime time.
Feel free to post any questions or counter-arguments below, and then you may be interested in my How To Plant A Garden gardening course online.