Buying a New Tree? Here’s How to Pick the Healthiest Specimen

The healthier a tree is, the better its chances are of surviving and thriving once it has been planted out in your garden. But when you’re shopping at a nursery and you’re faced with a long line of trees that look almost identical, is it really possible to tell which ones are the healthiest?


The answer is yes – here’s how…


Check the Roots

So many tree problems can be traced back to the roots, so this is the first place you should look. Check underneath the pot to make sure that roots aren’t snaking their way out – pot bound trees often struggle to establish.

You’ll then need to lift the tree out of its pot. Make sure that you first get the nursery’s permission, and possibly assistance. No matter the type of tree, whether this may be an evergreen dragon tree or an exotic mango tree, roots should always be light-coloured. Dark, black, or mushy roots are a sign of rot.

Ideally, the tree that you pick should have several small roots. The soil around them should be soft and moist.


Check the Bark

Tree bark appearance varies hugely depending on species. For example, olive trees are twisted and gnarled, while grass trees have a very blackened bark. Either way, the bark should always be healthy, meaning free from any damage.

Check for blemishes and wounds, as well as signs of insect damage. Areas of stripped bark are a big warning sign, as is dead wood.

While it’s true that many of these issues aren’t fatal, they do mean that your tree will be putting more of its energy into healing, rather than into establishing its roots, once you plant it out.


Check the Branches

It goes without saying that broken branches aren’t a good sign – they’ll leave that tree more susceptible to diseases. Ideally, you want all of the branches to look healthy and be well-distributed around the tree.

Checking that the trunk is tapered well would also be a good idea. This ensures structure and stability. However, don’t forget that taper varies depending on species – the shape of the trunk on a Queensland Bottle Tree would be very different to that of a yucca tree.


Check for a Guarantee

Chances are, you wouldn’t spend a large amount of money on an electronic device if it didn’t come with a warranty. Well, the same should apply to your tree purchases too.

As an example, we offer a 12 month guarantee with each and every one of our grass trees. Why? Because they’re notorious for struggling to establish. Even though we sell the most adaptable variety (the Glauca grass tree), one that we’re confident will always thrive in the right environment, we still offer this guarantee to give our customers yet another reason to trust that our trees are quality.



If the tree that you’re considering passes all of the above tests, then that’s a sign of a healthy specimen. It’s not something that you’ll usually need to worry about when shopping at a reputable nursery such as ours, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you ever buy garden trees elsewhere.


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