Have the apple trees in the nursery or big box stores been in the same pot, since they were first planted?

When they have a tree at the nursery or big box store like Lowe’s or Home Depot, have those trees been in that pot for a couple of years? This assumes the tree is at least two-years-old.

I wondered if they grafted in that pot and then fed and watered it in that same pot.

We’re they ever in the ground and dug up just for sale?


In most cases they remain in that pot at big box stores. The reason I know this is the roots inside the pot are in the shape of the pot.

I’ve always assumed they bought bare root trees wholesale and stuck them in pots. It’s been years since I have purchased such a tree, though. Used to be if you bought one in early spring the potting soil would drop away from the roots because the trees had just been stuck there. It’s expensive to grow a tree in a pot for a year, cheaper to size them up in the ground.


I would assume that the nurseries that the Big Box guys source them from put the trees in as 1st year whips and then grow them out a year and sell them to ordinary folks at a huge mark up. I haven’t bought one from the Big Box stores in a while, but the last ones I did, the roots were just a big container shape.
I have bought a couple trees from a local Amish nursery that were bare root from Schlabachs nursery. The Amish grower just put them in 3 gallon pots with some potting mix and sold them as potted trees. I knew that going in, but I only wanted a couple varieties from Schlabachs so I were to the local guy and paid a few bucks more per tree.

I’ve had a mix of the two. Some pots are filled with roots suggesting the tree has been in there for at least a year. Some pots have a fresh bare root tree crammed in it with loose dirt. I’ve even had sawdust come out of a pot. I can’t remember which store does what because I stopped buying potted trees a few years ago.

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Are you talking about spring purchased trees only? It wouldn’t take very long for a healthy apple tree to fill a 5-7 gallon pot with fine roots.

I usually get them in the fall.

No. It is a vertical industry for fruit trees. Wholesalers graft scion onto field-grown rootstock in the fields. For most species, nearly all the grafted plants are sold bareroot to distributors and nurseries for potting. For a few cultivars that are difficult for homeowners to grow from bareroot, the wholesaler first pots them, then the survivors are sold down the line. Some wholesale growers have combined operations of field to pots, e.g. Durling Citrus and Monrovia.

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