Seedling pot sizes, input desired

I’m planning on starting a fair amount of seeds come spring (persimmon, pawpaw, oak, etc) and am looking to buy pots to start them in. In a perfect world I can keep them in these pots for a couple years and graft them (if I wanted) in these pots. Root pruning the taproot is also ideal, especially for the pawpaws.

Been browsing the Stuewe website, but can’t decide what size/brand to get. Looking at Anderson Bandpots, TreePots, and mini-TreePots. Some people speak highly of the RootMaker pots, but they won’t keep a plant for more than a season and I can’t justify the cost of buying 2 sets of pots right now.

I’m leaning towards TreePots, both England’s and Edible Landscaping use them. I got a nice persimmon from EL this spring in one but I can’t remember the size. Anyone know what size pot the pawpaws from England’s in this photo are? Maybe 5x12? I’m looking at either 4x9 (mini), 4x12, or 5x12 treepots.


1 Like

I’ve been having the exact same internal debate. I used these paper plant bands last year for some pawpaw seedlings and I was fairly happy with them. Definitely not re-usable, though. The quality of the product and the customer service from this company was good. I believe this is what Oikos tree crops uses.

I know it’s not professional of me to say but what about a bunch of used 5 gallon pales. Typically you can pick them up for free or little of nothing from bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores etc. who use icing, pickles, fruit, and so forth that come in buckets. When I was younger I raised all my tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets and would get two or three years out of them.

1 Like

I have loads of larger pots (1 gal and up), that’s not a concern for me. Seriously, loads.

These would be for starting seed and grafting in 1-3 years.

I just use regular pots, myself, although have little experience. I plant many seedlings in one huge pot. I only have so much room.

For Pawpaw,I have a bunch of the 4x9 inch,that were purchased on Ebay and have a few 5x14’s.I also use 2 liter soft drink bottles,with the tops cut off.Been looking for the 3 liter ones.
The plants have stayed in all of these for about 3 years without any problems. Brady

1 Like

Thanks! I’ll probably go with the 4x9. I made a paper model to see what size it is, seems like it will be good.

For persimmons, you may want to consider the taproot, which I understand can get pretty big. Both times I’ve ordered persimmons from JustFruitsAndExotics, they’ve sent them in tall and relatively thin pots. I checked the bottom and it says that it is a 8x16 treepot (I measured it at 8"x15.5").

In theory the Treepots will air prune the taproot, part of why I’m looking at them. How tall was the tree in the 8x16, out of curiosity?

It was pruned to 3’ tall, in order to fit in the shipping box. There is a pic in this post.

1 Like

I’ve successfully grown persimmon, pawpaw, chestnut, Allegheny chinquapin, crabapple, and Jujube in rootmaker pots.

It is not that you can’t keep trees in rootmaker pots for longer periods. It is simply that you don’t maximize your growth unless you root prune in stages. Dr. Whitcomb wrote and article on the 4" rule that explains it better than I can: 4" Rule

You really have a few options:

  1. Use regular pots and live with the consequences of J-Hooking and root circling.
  2. Use pots that are so deep that the tap root never hits the bottom before you are ready to transplant. (Not likely with deep tap rooted trees).
  3. Use root pruning containers.

If you are going to root prune, with these trees you need to prune that tap root early. For rootmaker, that means starting them in 18s. After about 16 weeks these will become hard to water because the roots will have largely filled the space in the container. They won’t die if you keep them in 18s longer, but you will lose potential growth.

You could probably skip 1 gal RB2s and go straight from 18s into 3 gal RB2s. I can’t speak to the Stuewe pots from first hand experience but I do know folks who have used them and I have not heard any complaints from them.

Good Luck and keep us posted on what you decide and how it works for you!

1 Like

Thanks Jack. I know you’re a big fan of the rootmakers! At the moment I can’t spend that much on pots though, already went overboard buying stuff from England’s.

Might as well mention it here, one idea I want to try is starting pawpaw seeds indoors in January or February. When I started a few last year outdoors they didn’t emerge until July or August (as expected) and only grew to about 4" tall. My hope is by starting them early enough indoors (they should have 3-4 months chilling by then) I may get 2 growth cycles. I feel like you’ve done something similar, Jack?

I’ve found that the DeePots that stuewe sells air prune the paw-paw tap root perfectly. I’ve got seedling paw-paws in the 7", 10" and 14" deepots and they seem to be loving it… The Deepots and trays are pretty cheap too.

ps: The paw-paw roots hit the bottom of the 14" deepots. The problem with the 14" deepot is if you need up-pot it, there are very few choices of pots tall enough. I settled on up-potting from 14" deepots to the 6x6x16 TreePots.


Yes, you can search these threads for Pawpaw and see some pics of what I did. I started them in RM 18s under lights indoors and then transplanted them into 1 gal RB2 pots and kept them on my shaded lower deck. I was not trying to maximize growth or I would have transplanted them to 3 gal RB2s sooner. Instead, I was trying to control sunlight for the photosensitive trees for the first two seasons before planting them in full sun in the field. I will transplant them to 3 gal RB2s next spring as soon as I see bud swell.

As for Rootmaker, I’m a fan of root pruning containers for my environment. I get reliable spring and fall rains and I plant trees in the field with no supplemental water. For folks that can provide supplemental water, I’m a big fan of root pruning containers as well. For folks planting trees in the field without supplemental water in drought prone areas or those without dependable rain, I’m not sure if root pruned trees are the best answer.

As for brand of root pruning containers, when I first started I did a bit of research. Dr. Carl Whitcomb did a lot of the original research starting with trees gown in milk cartons with not bottom and eventually experimenting with different container designs and transplant techniques. He has a lot of good articles on the subject. He is the force behind Rootmaker and I decided to go with them for that reason.

There are now a lot of competing brands of root pruning container out there, each with a different level of effectiveness. I can vouch personally for the rootmaker brand containers, but that doesn’t mean that other root pruning containers won’t work. They are not all equal. The advice I generally give to folks new to root pruning containers is to read Dr. Whitcombs articles and understand the underlying principles. Then look at containers and see if they support those underlying principles. I’ve seen some designs that seem to support these principles well from what I can see and others that don’t.

By the way, on the cost side of the equation, I bought a few rootmaker containers in the early years retail. After I convinced myself of the benefits of these, I opened a wholesale account with rootmaker. With a wholesale account, I find rootmakers to be price competitive with other root pruning containers and less expensive than buying other brands at retail.

Everyone needs to figure out what works best for them, but I’m sold on the general principles of as system of root pruning containers.

1 Like


If you ambitious, have more time than money, and have the outdoor space, you might consider building a Missouri Gravel Bed. It seems to have many of the same root development benefit as a system of root pruning containers. Here is a link to an overview: MGB Overview

You can google it for more details. I don’t have the outdoor space at my home for this or I would have tried one. I may try to build one at the farm in the future to experiment with.


That’s a cool system! I’m impressed that they can bareroot year round. I will have to work on convincing my wife to let me install one of those beds :).

I know that I’m reviving a SUPER old thread, but I’m wondering about what pots you went with. Did you ever end up building a Missouri Gravel Bed, @ampersand ?