Tree-size root trainer pots...where to get them?

I am having trouble finding them, and thinking I may want a few…also I believe there is more than one manufacturer…so, where are folks in the US getting their larger root-trainer-type pots?

Thank you!


Stuewe and Sons. Freight can be high though.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “training”. There are some companies that sell narrow deep air pruning pots for starting trees. I haven’t seen any science to show there is any advantage of this over a regular root pruning container system. In fact the research shows that when you air prune a tap root, root branching primarily occurs in the last 4" of root.

I’ve been using Rootmaker containers. Dr. Whitcomb of Lacebark did much of the original research in root pruning containers. There are lots on competing container designs on the market with different levels of effectiveness. I suggest that you read some of Dr. Whitcomb’s papers on things like the 4" rule and then choose a brand of containers that fits the science like Rootmaker.

The first stage I like for most tree seedlings is the Express Tray 18s. Seedlings stay in these for 12-16 weeks. The container I like for the second stage is either 1 or 3 gal Rootbuilder II depending on the tree and application. I typically field plant from 3 gal.

As for vendors, there are lots who carry Rootmaker. When I was starting I bought my first few containers from Big Rock Trees. Once I was convinced these were a good fit for me and decided to start trees from seeds and nuts in volume for the farm, I opened a wholesale account with rootmaker. I now by from them directly.

As I say, there are lots of brands of containers, some work ok and others don’t. I know lots of folks trying other brands and reporting back results on the QDM forum (mostly growing trees for wildlife applications). I have not seen any reports that would cause me to change container systems.

well, from my end it was mainly for a handful of difficult(er) plants…apples and plums and things transplant just fine, but in particular I have a small Shendoah paw paw which I had in a maybe 30"-tall bucket,but when it got cold here a month back I brought it in from the garage–I had planned to just transplant it dormant to the yard, but it is beginning to leaf now. Planting safely means late April…

I was considering the following options:

  1. Get a rootmaker/roottrainer ASAP to transfer into, and baby it through another year in pot, but a pot where it won’t J-hook

  2. Keep in the pot it is in, and try to plant “proper” in November or so, when leaves have dropped and it is dormant…hope for no J-hooking, not sure how long the tap gets but tree itself is about 3/4 as tall as the bucket beneath it.

  3. stick it in the ground in April, cutting half-3/4 of the leaves then and planting it when they have 3-4 days of rain and wet in the forecast, to try to keep it from drying and dying on transplant as a fully-leafed paw paw (also transplanting w/ as much of soil ball as possible to save root system)

given the additional info, and sharp left-turn of the thread, additional thoughts? For the one paw paw as well as some additional seedlings, and some persimmons and/or bench-grafted fruit trees?


Root pruning begins when before most seedlings even show top growth. The question is whether the tap root is already too big for root pruning to be your best option. It probably depends on how big the tree is. Can you post a picture?

I’ve grown crabapple, chestnut, dwarf chinquapin oak, Allegheny chinquapin, persimmon, pawpaw, and jujube trees in root pruning containers, but the best results come from starting them in 18s and then moving to larger containers according to the 4" rule.

I have tried putting small bare root trees in 3 gal rootbuilder II containers. The first year is kind of like planting a bare root tree in the field. It pretty much sleeps as it is trying to develop a new root system. The only real advantage I can see is that you can keep it at home where you can care for it better then if it is planted in the field at a remote location. You don’t have to worry about j-hooking or circling but I’m not sure you would see much difference if you planted the bare root tree where you could care for it.