Bare root (or whips), cell grown, pot grown and rootballed
For people who've never bought a new hedge before, there's a miriad of new terminology to get to grips with. In this section we attempt to explain in simple terms the key differences betwen the 4 main ways that hedge plants are sold.
Bare Root Hedges
Basically, what you are buying with bare roots is a really good root, with the appropriate amount of stem and side shoots but because the are generally deciduous, the tend to look disappointingly bare (exception to this are the evergreen species of Laurel, Yew, Privet and Box which keep their leaves - or most of them - even as bare roots and the semi evergreens Beech and Hornbeam).
Bare roots have the tremendous benefit of being very low cost. They are much cheaper for us to grow, because we plant them only once and can then leave them in the fields for several years rather than re-potting each year. They are also cheaper to deliver because we do not have to pay for the weight of the soil. There is though a certain failure rate - generally about 10% - (slightly more for Beech and Purple Beech) although you can improve the success rate to virtually 100% by planting with RootGrow.
We recommend our customers take advantage of the very low cost of bare root plants by planting a double staggered row which will give good density. You could also consider having a few spares in a corner of the garden - they'll grow at the same rate as the new hedge and if you have some gaps where an occasional plant has failed, you can pop in one of your spares and it'll be same height and bushiness as the rest of the hedge. Abracadabra!
Bare root plants are only supplied from November to March/early April (exact dates depend on the weather) when they are completely dormant. Planting early in the season (ie before Christmas) gives the roots the best chance to establish whilst there is still some warmth in the soil, ready to put on maximum spring growth. Bare roots need to be planted pretty quickly after arrival - we pack them in thick black bags inside our own cardboard boxes to avoid dessication - but you need to unpack them from the black bags, moisten the roots, store them temporarily in a sheltered place like a shed or garage (but not a greenhouse) and plant them within a few days - or "heel them in" altogether into one hole pending permanent planting. Full planting instructions will accompany the plants.
Only deciduous plants are sold as bare roots with the exception of Beech, Hornbeam and Privet which are semi evergreen and Cherry Laurel, Box and Yew which are full evergreens. Semi evergreens can defoliate when treated as bare root plants (particularly Privet) but recover very quickly.
We can select various mixtures of bare root hedging for various purposes (flowering, berrying, prickly) or customers can select their own mixtures. For advice, please call our helpline on 090 6663304.
Cell Grown plants
Cell grown plants are an intermediate step between small bare root and small pot grown plants. They don't have the root development and stem bulk of plants grown in 2 Litre (or larger) pots, but on the other hand, they are inexpensive. They are suitable for planting into warm soils when roots are active , encouraging rapid establishment - so March, April, May, June, September and October are ideal months, although they can actually be planted throughout the summer as long as the roots are kept moist. Cell grown plants are supplied with roots intact (unlike bare roots) so there is no loss of the fine feeding roots and root hairs which often carry friendly fungi - as a result, they have a high success rate with good uniformity. We sell cell grown plants in minimum quantities of 12 per specis. Prices are shown for individual plants, discounted packs of 50 and packs of 100 and we can give even bigger discounts for larger quantities. For large projects (eg forestry or woodlands) please speak to us about wholesale rates.
Root Balled Hedging Plants
Many evergreen plants are sold as root balled, particularly large plants. They are grown naturally in a field (often for many years) and when ready for delivery, they are scooped out of the ground by a machine, which cuts a ball around the root which is then wrapped in a biodegradable string bag.
Root balled evergreens are cheaper than pot grown evergreens (due to the lower cost involved in this growing method) - and particularly when customers are looking for tall, bushy plants, this is a very economical way to establish a new hedge.
Root balled plants are only available from November to April - the success rate (which is good but not as good as Pot Grown) is enhanced if they are re-planted into their permanent positions before Spring arrives and planted with RootGrow. Customers who order root balled plants should ensure that they can plant out within a few days of delivery. We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping large evergreens well watered. Sometimes, root balls (particularly those over 1.5m) can defoliate or suffer from yellowing leaves when the first hot weather arrives in the first season after planting - this is just the plant being shocked by the heat and it merely needs plenty of water to help it to recover.
Planting later in the season (March/April) is riskier than planting early in the season (November/December) and the risk increases with the height of the plant ie a 2.0m plant planted in March has a higher risk than a 1m plant planted in March. Equally it has a higher risk than a 2.0m plant planted in November. RootGrow helps a lot but even RootGrow won't help a plant find water if there has been no rainfall and you don't water them sufficiently. You'd think it wouldnt happen when people pay a lot of money for lovely plants but we know otherwise!
Pot Grown Hedge Plants
We sell evergreens, semi evergreens and deciduous pot grown plants. Growing in pots requires much more input from us with watering, weeding, feeding and annual repotting. However, they have a very high success rate because the roots remain completely protected by the pots until customers re-plant them whereas inevitably there is some root damage to bare roots and root balled plants in the process of lifting them from the fields and delivery. Pot grown plants can be left in their pots for days or even weeks before being planted into the ground, providing they are kept watered.
We always indicate what size pot the plant is in and this is given to indicate to customers the maturity of the root structure from which comes the bushiness of a plant. So a Cherry Laurel at 100cm tall grown in a 4 litre pot will have bigger, more mature roots than the same height of plant grown in a 2 litre pot, and therefore the upper growth will be much bushier. It's a case of "you get what you pay for". There's a photograph on our website in the sectiomn "Advice on pot sizes" which shows how the bushiness of a plant increases with bigger pot sizes.
Some websites don't make it absolutely clear what you're getting. We're aware that some of our competitors sell "plugs" or plants in 9cm pots - nothing wrong with either but they're not comparable with 2 litre pots which is our minimum on all species except some of the compact varieties like Lavenders. Please make sure when you're comparing prices on websites that you take the pot size into account.