Planting Trees

Planting Small Trees Saves Big Bucks!

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The trend in nurseries these days is to sell trees of increasingly large caliber at an increasingly high price, a trend that sits well with many consumers because they see it as a way to get faster results. But the laidback gardener (and the gardener on a budget) would prefer, instead, small-caliber trees or even rooted cuttings or seedlings, say about 2 or 3 years old, to large-size trees: they are less expensive (and how!), easier to transport and plant … and the success rate is vastly improved.

As is the case with almost all plants, seedlings and young plants tolerate transplanting much better than more mature specimens and grow much faster than large-caliber trees that have been stressed by having their roots severely confined. So, 5 years later, you’ll often see no major difference between a large caliber tree that cost $300 and a sapling that cost $5.95 … except that the sapling often exceeds its big brother in size, in vigor and in appearance!

In the world of trees, good things really do come in small packages!

Article originally published on September 19, 2014

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

3 comments on “Planting Small Trees Saves Big Bucks!

  1. There are a few trees that can be planted as mature specimens. Recycled palms are the most notable example. Then there are those that become grumpier about confinement and planting as they mature. Eucalyptus, although very resilient and vigorous while young, might take years to recover from planting as a large specimen! Seedlings or #1 (1 gallon) plants would be the best option, if only nurseries would make them available.

  2. Patricia Evans

    I’m fortunate to have a local nursery that sells seedling and young trees and shrubs (mostly native plants). I only wish there were more growers who did the same for perennials which now only seem to come in gallon pots with large price tags.

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