PPDL Picture of the Week
May 2, 2016
In the Nursery: Nearing the End of Digging Season
Kyle Daniel, Nursery and Landscape Outreach Specialist,
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Prior to the popularity of growing ornamental plants in
containers, plants were grown in the field.
There are advantages and disadvantages to growing in the field, one of
them being limitations on when and how plants can be moved and stored. Digging season in the Midwest begins in the
spring when the ground becomes thawed enough to dig and ends when temperatures
start to creep up in late spring and plants start to break bud. Most nurseries use a spade connected to skid
steer or tractor that digs a conical shaped root ball. Once the trees are dug, workers place them in
wire and burlap. Burlap with wire
baskets and twine are typically used at most nurseries in the Midwest to hold the
larger root balls together (Figure 1), while smaller root balls are often
without the wire basket and are fastened with nails or pins (Figure 2).
When transplanting these trees in the landscape, remove the
twine and burlap around the top of the root ball and fold the wire down about
half way once the plant is in the hole.
This will aide in holding the root ball together, while allowing the
tree to increase in caliper without any impediments. Synthetic twine is sometimes used, and will
not break down, so removing the twine is very important.