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How to Select a Tree at the Nursery
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different sizes and species of trees when you visit a nursery. Rather than picking trees for their pretty flowers, choose them based on size and species so they suit your landscape.
First Decide What You Want
First determine the height of tree you need. Many tree species have varieties that mature to different heights. Then choose the tree variety that best matches your height requirement.
Same Species Can Come in Different Sizes
Many tree species have varieties that mature to different heights.
Inspect the Roots
Next, inspect the roots. Avoid trees in pots where the roots circle the trunk or container. Roots growing from the container indicate the tree has been left in the container too long and is root bound.
Avoid Girdling Roots
Avoid trees in pots where the roots circle the trunk or container. Roots growing from the container indicate the tree has been left in the container too long and is root bound.
Avoid Trees with Roots Growing Outside the Container
Look at the holes on the bottom of the pot. See any roots? If so, move on.
Avoid Trees in Split Containers
Also, spilt containers indicate the tree has been left in the container too long and is root bound.
Avoid Lollipop Trees
And if the tree resembles a lollipop, with nearly all branches removed, pass on it. These grow slowly or suffer sun-scald, not to mention they’re rather unattractive.
Beware of Tall Trees in Small Containers
Trees that are too tall without the appropriate sized root ball or container will likely dieback when planted or else may not survive.
Avoid Double Trunks
Although multi-trunks are acceptable for shrubs, one single trunk per tree is preferred.
Avoid Damaged Trunks
Other flaws to be on the lookout for: scrapes, sunken areas or cuts on the trunks or main branches.
Excellent Selections for South Texas
Both Monterrey oak (Quercus polymopha) and possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua), on the right, are perfect examples of what to look for in a nursery tree — single trunk, branches extending almost to the bottom, no girdling roots, no exposed roots, no trunk wounds and a container appropriate in size to the tree height.
Perfect Choice: Monterrey Oak
This is a perfect nursery specimen shade tree in a container.
Perfect Choice: Possumhaw
This a perfect nursery specimen understory or small tree in a container.
Possumhaw: Feline Approved!
Even a cat knows when he sees a perfect tree. This possumhaw is cat approved!