How To Plant Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

Gently slice any circling roots.

Step 5: Prepare Trees and Shrubs for Planting

  • Remove Container: Gently lay the plant on its side and remove the container. Be very careful not to break any stems or to yank too hard on any part of the plant. If it’s stuck, you may need to squeeze or pound the container a little to work it loose, or cut the container into pieces.
  • Loosen Roots: Use a sharp, sterile knife to gently cut any roots that are circling or matted. Circling roots have a tendency to keep growing in a circle instead of branching out.
  • Keep Root Ball Intact: Don’t loosen or break apart the root ball itself! The idea is to keep the root ball intact, with some careful slices to encourage branching.
  • Position Plant in Hole: Place each tree or shrub in the planting hole, then stand back and take a close look. Make sure the plant is straight, at the correct spacing and depth, and turned the direction you prefer it to face.


  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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