University of Florida

Home > Planting trees > Planting details > Fabric containers

Planting trees from fabric containers

Root balls of field-grown trees in fabric containers are very fragile and must be handled carefully. Soil inside the ball can become loose from just a root ballmoderate disturbance.

Never drop the ball because roots will loose contact with soil and trees will shock and are likely to die quickly. Always remove all fabric from the ball before carefully sliding it into the planting hole. Make a slit in the fabric from the bottom of the root ball to the top and gently pull the fabric from the ball. Most people lay the tree on its side to perform this operation.

Some fabric container designs allow only small-diameter roots to develop outside the fabric; fabric on these trees will be easy to remove without disturbing the root ball. Other fabrics allow large roots to develop through the fabric making fabric removal more challenging.

A hand pruner can be used to cut large-diameter roots flush with the inside of the fabric to make removal easier. Some nursery operators use special tools designed to quickly remove fabric from the root ball.

Trees from fabric containers planted directly into the landscape will need to be staked to keep them upright. DO NOT plant them deep to hold them up-use an appropriate staking system.