Burlap removal from Moffatt Blue Juniper rootball before container planting?


Should I remove the burlap, before planting this evergreen in the container?
Thank you so much.


This is a great question for the spring planting season.

Before planting your tree in a container on a terrace, it’s good to know whether your container is insulated or not. If it is not insulated you may wish to add some insulation around the outside of your pot before the first fall frost- to prevent any sudden temperature changes. If the winter weather is erratic and your pot is on an exposed terrace, your Juniper could be vulnerable to the freeze – thaw cycle that can occur, resulting in root damage and a stressed tree.

For more information on winterizing your terrace pots see attached ‘Container Gardening Guide’ prepared by Toronto Master Gardeners. https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/container-gardening-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Back to your original question. Some balled and burlapped trees come in a wire basket to make loading and handling easier. The wire is usually on the outside of the burlap, but occasionally is found under the burlap.

Use wire cutters to cut away the wire basket.  Cutting from the top, vertically down to the base about 4 evenly spaced times allows you to peel away the wire. Your 10 gallon root ball should be fairly compact, so it should be manageable weight wise. If your root ball is super heavy, roll the root ball between each cut to expose the side that needs cutting.

Cut away any rope or wire that is securing the burlap and discard. Sometimes staples are used to hold the burlap, so remove with care as they are heavy duty and sharp, gloves are highly recommended.

Peel the burlap away from the rootball. If it is attached, cut it off in sections. The more of the rootball that is exposed to your potting soil, the better. Occasionally, pieces of burlap become embedded by new roots. If its a small amount of natural burlap it will eventually rot away. If it is synthetic burlap, try to remove as much as you can.

Plant according to the attached garden guide.

Good luck with your terrace gardening.