Shrubs – Stuffed into Container

Q: I recently purchased azaleas in 3 gallon containers only to discover at planting that the container had 2 one gallon plants replanted into a 3 gallon container. The nursery owner was not receptive to my questioning this and stated a container will sometimes contain four plants.

It is obvious this was not 2 plants started in one container as each had a separate pot shaped root ball.

I encountered the same situation with some ‘Penny Mac’ hydrangeas. Is this acceptable nursery practice?

A: I spoke to Andy Rogers at McCorkle Nursery and he said putting one gallon plants in a three gallon pot is NOT their practice. They, like other nurseries sometimes put 2 – 3 liners (rooted baby plants) into a container and maintain it for a year to give a fuller product. Some nurseries also might “pot-up” a one gallon plant into a three gallon container, maintain it for a year until it is well rooted and ship that to a retailer.

In my opinion, a reputable grower would not put two one gallon plants in a three gallon container….but a retail nursery owner might. It is common nursery practice to put multiple liners in a container and allow them to grow to marketable size.

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