The Rockdale Gardener

Gardening Posts From Rockdale Cooperative Extension

Recently Planted B and B Trees Can Suffer if not Cared for Properly

Balled and Burlap (B and B) trees are not for the average gardener. Trees and shrubs can be purchasedIMG_0717 with the roots balled in burlap. The trees are grown in a nursery for a number of years, dug out of the ground with machinery and then packaged in a wire basket lined with burlap.

These trees can be thirty feet tall and weigh hundreds of pounds. An oak can be bought as a seedling for a couple of dollars or as a twelve-inch caliper tree (the diameter of the trunk two feet off the ground) for more than two thousand dollars. Generally, the bigger the nursery stock, the more expensive it is. Digging holes for these large trees is difficult for average people.

B and B trees must be held under irrigation a couple of weeks after digging but before shipping. After digging, nurseries  should always hold B and B trees in an irrigated holding yard long enough for the trees to adjust to the loss of so many roots. Keeping the buds or leaves wet for two or more weeks stops transpiration allowing new feeder roots to be created.

After shipping, trees must be irrigated often. If not, then the trees will suffer from too many leaves and 15 g plants in rowsnot enough roots. The resulting physiological decline of the tree is called transplant shock.

If it gets warm and dry soon after planting I would expect recently dug stressed out trees to lose a considerable number of leaves to compensate for the loss of roots. Maybe even die.

Digging season for nurseries should come to an end in February. Trees should be dug in the winter. Stressed trees are likely to lose a lot of leaves but may recover.

This is why potted trees are better than dug trees for most applications. I recommend using potted plants for homeowners. Container plants are easier to use and survival is much better.