The debate regarding the relative merits of the three main ways of buying hedging plants – bare root, root ball or container grown – rages on but, earlier this year, we came to a decision to offer only Container Grown Hedging plants and to stop supplying plants as either bare root or root balls.
The decision hasn’t been taken lightly, but customer research and our own tests pointed to an unacceptable failure rate. The problem is that while we ensure healthy plants leave our nursery, neither bare root nor root balls travel particularly well – root balls, for example, have a tendency to lose their soil in transit either by the vibration of the truck or train or simply by knocking against each other. The concern with bare root plants starts from the moment the seedlings are planted out. Because the whole point of bare root plants is their low price, they have to be planted close together – too close, in fact, and the plants quickly become too tall for their bed. They are effectively being forced and while this is fine for rhubarb, it’s not so good for hedging plants. The plants are consequently weakened and when they are pulled from the ground, they are prone to root damage. This, in turn, can prevent the plants from growing from the base once in their new home.
Both bare roots and root balls require immediate attention once they arrive at the client’s home. At the very least, they’ll need a drink and really should be planted the same day they’re received. Any delay at any stage, and the plants are at risk.
Also, we have confirmed our suspicions that because bare root plants in particular are especially cheap, few customers let us know if some of the plants don’t take – this is not how we like to run our business.
Finally, bare root and root balls can only be planted during certain months – November to March and mid-October to mid-April respectively. Container grown plants can be planted throughout the year and, as long as they are kept in an appropriate location and are watered, will happily wait to be planted.