Are Smaller Rootballs Bad for the Tree?

Our customers sometimes ask us if having a big tree with an 18″  rootball is bad for the tree. The answer to that is two-fold:

  1. If our trees were grown traditionally in the field, we could not harvest them with such a small rootball. We would lose so much of the root that it would compromise the tree.
  2. Because our trees are grown in root control bags, we only lose 20% of the root system when we harvest them. (Trees grown traditionally in the field can lose up to 80% of the root system during harvest.) Our trees are very happy in their 18″ rootball, and in fact thrive better than many trees in bigger rootballs. Here’s why:

swedish columnar aspenThe science behind growing in a root control bag

  • Because we grow in a root control bag, we end up with 80% of the root system contained within that 18″ space.
  • Unlike growing in a pot, the roots don’t get rootbound – they do grow outwards through the bag, but as that happens, it encourages a more vigorous growth within the bag.
  • As the root breaks through the bag it develops dozens of little nodes. When we harvest the tree, remove the bag and break off the root, each of those little nodes sends out fresh new roots.
  • Our trees establish quickly because they have lost less of their root mass, and suffered less transplant shock, and because they have a network of new roots already growing by the time they are planted in their new home.

Not all trees like the root control bags

We have been growing this way since 2000, and we have discovered that some trees like the root control bags better than others. Some of the trees that flourish include Swedish Columnar Aspen, Schubert Choke Cherries, Ash, Mountain Ash, Fruit Trees, Crabapples, Amur Maple, Elm, Birch and Oak. They love this growing system, grow well in the bags and thrive after they are harvested and sold.

Our big trees with little rootballs are sold exclusively through Bloomfield Garden Centre. Wholesale is also available.