Choosing Plant Material

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Choosing Plant Material

billions of seeds
Of the billions of seeds produced in the forest, 99.99% never grow to mature trees. Forest conditions favor survival of only the strongest trees. Conversely, in nurseries every effort is made to insure the survival of as many seedlings as possible. Nursery conditions favor the survival of all seedlings, exactly the opposite of the forest.

To compound this dilemma, environmental conditions in human landscapes can be much harsher than forest conditions. So the trees produced in our nurseries, which are not culled or sorted in any way to favor the strongest, are being planted in parking lot islands, median strips along streets, and everywhere else in our communities, where conditions are much harsher than forest conditions. Why are we surprised when some of them die, even as we pamper them along?
truck load of trees
In this "buyer beware" world that we live in, the educated consumer has a considerable advantage over the ignorant consumer. It pays to know how to recognize high quality plant material.

high quality tree 

The Savvy Consumer Seeks Out: 

  • Healthy branches, twigs and foliage
  • Small pruning wounds
  • Foliage evenly distributed down trunk
  • Single, well defined trunks
  • Trunks with normal root flare
  • Trunks without sprouts near the base
  • Branches evenly distributed
  • Appropriate sized root ball or container
  • Appropriate height for size of trunk 

poor quality trees 

The Average Consumer Pays For:

  • Stunted Leaves or shriveled bark
  • Large wounds with dead bark
  • Foliage sparse or mostly at top
  • Forked trunks, especially down low
  • Trunks without root flare
  • Trunks with many sprouts at base
  • Many branches from same spot
  • Pot-bound trees or undersized root balls
  • Spindly trees that need support