Can I plant a dogwood tree by just removing the bottom of the pot?
October 19, 2022 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I have a small dogwood tree in a large pot in my garden. The tree is probably 4-5 years old, the pot's about knee-high and, including the pot, the tree stands about chest-high. I'm happy with how it looks where it is. I'd like it to get bigger so I probably need to plant it out – but I like its current height and don't to lower it by half a meter. Will it be OK if I just remove the bottom of the pot, loosen the roots, and sink it a few centimeters into the ground? Or will it be much better to plant it out?
posted by snarfois to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you want this tree to live a long and healthy life, at a minimum, dig a hole as deep as and about 1/3 wider than the pot it is in right now.

Once it's established in the ground it will almost certainly grow faster than it has been doing in the pot. It won't take long for it to reach the height you want it to be, I promise.
posted by BlueJae at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2022 [11 favorites]

What BlueJae said. If you don't bury the root ball, rainfall will wash all the soil off the exposed roots, and the tree will die.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:52 AM on October 19, 2022

I should add too that you do not want to plant it any deeper than it is already planted in the pot (planting too deeply would also be bad for the tree); the reason I said "at a minimum" dig a hole as deep as the pot is that depending on soil conditions in that spot, you might want to dig a little deeper than that and then refill the extra space with amended soil, to make it easier for the tree to spread its roots.
posted by BlueJae at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2022

Best answer: It will die.
It will dry out.
You could either leave it in the pot or plant it correctly.
This link has a reasonable set of instructions.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Agree with all the above. I would also recommend putting an inch or two deep of mulch around the tree. But—this is important—do not let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree. So make like a really fat doughnut shape of mulch with a hole that's a couple inches bigger in diameter than the tree trunk at the base of the ground.

It's also important when planting/transplanting large plants to adequately water them in. Soak them in. Water it generously, then water it some more. Then some more, letting it sink in. Do this several more times. Then let the hose run on it at a dribble by the base of the tree for several hours, moving the hose around a bit from time to time. You want to the water to permeate very deeply and a casual watering will not do this. Very deep soak/watering will encourage roots to grow even lower versus just outwards.

You don't have to soak it quite that much after the initial planting. But for a few weeks I'd go generous with the water.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:32 PM on October 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Garden Professors have lots of great advice (and warnings) on tree planting.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2022

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