Hedging plants are sold in three basic ways – bare roots, root balls or container-grown.
Bare root plants are certainly the cheapest and bring the possibility of hedging to those on the tightest of budgets. Root balls cost a little more but still offer a cheap option.
However, cheap does not mean best value and while container-grown plants may cost more, they offer considerable advantages…
Bare root plants are only available from November to March and must be planted immediately they are received.
Root Ball plants are only available from mid-October to mid-April and should be planted as quickly as possible after they have been received.
Containers can be delivered (and planted) all year round and will not suffer if there is a delay in planting if kept watered. (Of course, nothing should be planted if the ground is frozen).
ESTABLISHING THE PLANT
Once planted, container-grown plants establish quickly and reliably as their roots will be fully-formed and will not have been disturbed by transplantation or delivery. And, of course, they are larger!
RATE OF GROWTH
One of gardening’s great myths is that small plants grow faster than large ones. Unfortunately this is not true and container-grown is the only option for the impatient (nothing wrong in that) or for those who need instant hedging for security or privacy. A container-grown plant will always be the first to reach its desired height.
Container-grown hedging can be planted and maintained with far greater precision – particularly important if you are growing a formal hedge and require the individual plants to meld into each other ‘just so’. Bare root and root ball plants are yet to establish their growing pattern and need careful attention to ensure they grow as required.
If your hedging plant is destined to be grown as a specimen tree or shrub, then, for the reasons mentioned above, the place to start is container-grown.
In short, bare root and root ball plants have their place and ensure that hedging can be a universal pleasure, but, if your budget will allow, then buy the largest container-grown plants you can afford – they really do offer the best long-term value.