Selecting Quality Plants for Your Landscape

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When shopping and selecting plants for your landscape this spring, examine the root system, form, shape, and proportions of each plant you consider, whether bare-root, container grown, or balled & burlapped.

  • Bare-root plants have the soil washed or shaken from the roots. Be sure the roots are not crushed or broken and that there is no damage to the trunk. Good-quality, bare-root plants have moist roots, not dry, brittle ones.
  • In container-grown plants, the root system should be well established, but not to the point of outgrowing the container or being root-bound. Gently remove a plant you are considering for purchase from the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are coiled around one another, or are circling the surface of the container, or are coming out of the drain holes, the plant is probably root-bound.
  • Check the rootballs of balled & burlapped (B&B) plants. The rootball of a B&B plant should be compact and firm. If it is loose or cracked, the root system may be damaged. Also, make sure the trunk of the plant is not damaged. 

Burlapped Plants, Charlotte Plant Sale, Union County, North Carolina, Trees, As you select plants, consider shape and form. Look for trees and shrubs with full, natural shapes. Avoid any with major bare spots caused by missing or broken limbs. Good form is a sign of quality and care. Always select plants with good form so that, as they mature, they grow into an attractive, natural shape. Misshapen trees and plants only look more awkward as they grow. Closely related to shape and form are the proportions of a plant. The trunks of healthy, well-formed plants are straight in the ball and container. The plant should not have slanted, twisted, or deformed stems. Quality garden centers usually offer a wide selection of healthy, well-formed plants.

The Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer plant sale held at the end of February was a huge success. We sold out of blueberries and many other varieties of fruit and native trees. Mark your calendar for the Spring Plant Sale that will be held on Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. There will be vegetables, more blueberries, figs, herbs and more.