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Chapter 10—Selecting Quality Trees from the Nursery1

Edward F. Gilman and Laura P. Sadowski 2


Tree selection does not end with choosing the appropriate species or cultivar for the planting site. Suitable nursery stock must be chosen based on planting site conditions and intended after-care. This fact sheet discusses site conditions and after-care as related to maximum tree size at planting, root ball characteristics, appropriate tree production method, and tree structure. Nursery stock must also be carefully inspected to pick high quality trees. This publication also describes in detail quality factors to evaluate, including root ball defects, size, shape, and structure; nursery planting depth; presence of included bark; trunk form and branch arrangement; pruning cuts; presence of pests and disease; leaf color; top die-back; clear trunk length; and canopy uniformity.

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1. This document is ENH 1060 one of the Urban Forest Hurricane Recovery Program series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2007. Reviewed February 2017. Visit the EDIS website at and
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor; and Laura P. Sadowski, horticultural information specialist; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH1060

Release Date:February 21, 2017

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