How To Plant Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

Most trees and shrubs need a year or so to become established.

Step 1: Choosing Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

The best way to ensure success when planting container grown trees or shrubs is by choosing plants that are compatible with your climate. Before purchasing, you should:

  • Planting Conditions: Take note of the light, water, temperatures, and air circulation in the planting area. Choose plants suited for the growing conditions.
  • Test Soil: Do a soil test to see if your soil needs pH or nutrient adjustment. You can do a little adjusting to fit your plants, but you’ll have better luck if you choose plants suited for your conditions.
  • Soil Drainage: Determine how well your soil drains. Some trees and shrubs don’t like soggy roots while others hate drying out.

Planting Tip

To determine how well your soil drains, perform a soil drainage perk test at the planting site, to see how long it takes for the water to drain. Slow drainage indicates poor-draining soil, but rapid drainage can be a problem, too. To improve drainage, amend the soil with organic matter. If the problem is severe, consider raised beds or installing drain tiles underneath the planting bed to divert water.


  1. Pat, in the demonstration photos, I am planting ‘Otto Luyken’ English laurels. They are gorgeous evergreen shrubs, one of my favorite choices for foundation plantings! In Step 1 there is an azalea (the lighter green shrub) to the left of the Otto Luykens. The photo in Step 9 features a blooming crape myrtle.

  2. Hi, looking for perfect unity planting tree for my daughter to plant at her wedding, possibly tree will live in a container for a couple of years and then be planted in the couples yard later. Tree is a symbol of longlasting love with proper nourishment for longetivity and will be memorable of beginning their life together. They will live in Atlanta Ga. for a while.
    Please help!

  3. I have just been given an Azalea. I have clay soil & a with a south facing garden. As I understand they like acid soil was wondering whether to grow it in a tub. So was looking for some advice!

  4. Was wondering if it is to late to plant shrubs in Denver Colorado, we are supposed to have a good 3 weeks left of 70 degree weather. If so what are good shrubs for a clay type soil in the fall?

  5. we would like shrubs 3-5 ft tall and 2-3 feet wide anyone got any specific names? for low maintenance fall planting clay soil?

  6. I have a azalea small tree in pot can I plant outside & leave it outside during winter months so it will bloom again in spring plants flowers all gone


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