Great Garden For Less Money
Get the Most for Your Money When Planting
When you buy plants in one gallon containers you are paying dearly for the time, money, water, nutrients, and water that it has taken to nurture them to this size. While they seem like they would be your best bet for a beautiful instant garden there are disadvantages to spending this amount on money.
The smaller plants have roots that are in an aggressive stage of growth and are ready to grow much more quickly than larger plants, plus they require a smaller hole and so it is easier to plant them. This aggressive growth helps them to compete against weeds better. The aggressive root growth quickly produces a much larger plant above ground as well.
For the price of one larger plant you can get 3-15 smaller 3 inch plants, or small plugs, and plant more densely for the same money. The roots of the larger plants have already put out their most aggressive growth are often wound around in the pot and not as ready to send out additional new growth
With larger plants the rule is the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap. It takes until the third year for a great growth spurt to take place, but not so with smaller plants.
If you plants smaller plants in early September, the growth time they have between that time and spring will often produce a plant as large as the more expensive plant by July. They will have 4 months of root growth before the ground is frozen in December, and will have 3 months of growth for the upper plant from thaw in April until July. The result is a hardy plant, in a good size, for very little money.
This also applies to trees and shrubs. Smaller plants benefit from getting accustomed to your soil and site sooner than those in larger pot. Larger plants that come in a 10- to 20-gallon pot, are root bound, pampered, and not as ready to aggressively grow.
A $200 tree purchased with a 1½-inch-caliper trunk (trunk diameter) and a $10 sapling that was about 2 to 3 feet tall would both have the same height and trunk caliper in 5 years. However you could have many more trees for the same money.