December 2016 Container vs. B&B

Container vs. Balled and Burlapped - what’s best for your landscape? (blog 12-15-16)  
special thanks for contributions by Jeff Smith with NNP Midwest

When you visit a garden center you often have a choice when it comes to larger shrubs and trees. You can choose the convenience of a container plant which are typically easier to move around. They are often lighter in weight and the container tends to be smaller than its counterpart the balled and burlapped, or B&B plant. There are pros and cons to choosing one over the other, but with a little information and guidance, you can select the best option for your project.

Container plants have many benefits over balled & burlapped plants such as: less weight, and they can be harvested anytime of the year which means there is more availability to the consumer. There is no shock to the root system from being dug which is beneficial for the overall health of the plant. For the grower, there is less labor to harvest the plant and quicker growth which can translate to better pricing in some cases for the consumer.

On the other side of the coin, there are some specific benefits to B&B plants. They require less water than container plants while the plant is being established and are less likely to blow over once planted. Container plants need to be staked until the plant is well established to allow the root systems to grow and support the plant, which is typically not the case with B&B. B&B plants tend to be more full and heavy then a container plant. The slower growth allows the plant to fill out more completely and can result in a more robust tree or shrub.

There is a newer method that has grown in popularity over the years. Container Established is a hybrid of container grown and B&B. The plant is grown in the field and then once harvested the soil is removed from around the roots. The plant is then put into a pot with growing media, not field soil, and left to sit for a few months until the plant is fully rooted. This gives you the body of a field grown plant with the weight and ability to ship anytime.  

When purchasing your plants, talk to your Garden Center or Nursery Specialist to find out more about how their plants are grown and harvested and what the most beneficial choice is to ensure your landscape is happy and healthy.