Transplant little lucerne trees into potting bags

Transplant little trees into potting bags

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you transplant your little lucerne trees that we have couriered with several little trees in a potting bag filled with soil. Clients need to transplant each little tree into individual potting bags to grow out to 40cm tall before they will be ready to plant out in the land. You can view our YouTube video ~

  • Have your new potting bags filled with a sandy soil mix.  Do NOT use potting soil, compost, peat or any other medium that will remain wet and soggy.  Lucerne trees hate sitting with wet roots for prolonged periods of time.
  • Water your new bags of soil so that when you transplant your trees, their roots will go into wet soil.
  • Make holes in the soil of each newly filled potting bag with a dibber or stick – nice and deep and fairly wide.
  • Fill a small bucket or bowl with water which you will use when you take out the trees from our potting bag.  You do NOT want the roots to dry out.
  • Take our bag with trees and gently press around the base to loosen the soil from the bag. 
  • Take hold of the bottom of the potting bag and tilt the trees over on the other hand.
  • Gently slide the potting bag off the soil or take a Stanley knife and slice the bag open down the side.
  • Gently loosen the soil off the tree’s roots.
  • Place the trees’ roots into the bucket of water.
  • Now separate each little tree carefully, not pulling or damaging the roots.
  • Take each tree and ease its roots into the hole in the new potting bag soil and then press the soil around the roots so that there is no air space around the roots.
  • Give your newly transplanted trees a light watering.  
  • Your newly transplanted trees may go into “transplant shock” and may look sad and wilted for a day or two, but should recover within a week.
  • Keep them protected and lightly watered when needed.
  • Once they reach 40cm tall, they are ready to be planted out into the land. 
  • You can test if they need watering by checking the soil at the bottom of the potting bags or sticking your finger into the soil to see if it is dry.  Remember not to over-water your trees.

NB: Do not throw away the soil in which your seedlings have been growing!  There are many seeds in each bag that may still germinate.  Place this soil in an old ice cream box with a few drainage holes poked into the bottom and water this along with your trees. Transplant any new seedlings that may emerge into their own potting bags as soon as they develop their true leaves.

We have supplied you with at least 10% extra trees with each consignment. Order your trees and seeds today!

Tube-packs are for courier purposes only

Winter is a perfect time to start your lucerne tree germination process and we have received a lot of interest and new orders. Recently a new client asked,

“Should I first plant my lucerne tree seeds into tube-packs (after seeing images on our blog and as an option in our ordering form) before then potting my seedlings into potting bags?”

Here’s my response ~

We only use tube-packs to courier clients our little lucerne trees so as to provide light-weight packaging, to reduce volumetric weight and therefore lower courier costs. A tube-pack has very little space for root growth. 

We recommend clients germinate their own seeds in a seed bed or seed tray (in a warm or sheltered spot) and then transplant these little seedlings straight into 1-litre potting bags.  It is not recommended to plant your seedlings into small tube-packs first because you want them to grow to 30-40cm tall in their potting bags, so that they are strong enough to go out into your lands, and their roots need space to grow in the bag.  You can view our step-by-step germination and potting out seedling instructions here.

Just look at the length of the roots on this seedling — as much root growth as stem growth! Remember that a lucerne tree grows a deep tap root that can go up to 10m deep, so its natural desire is to go down deep!

Potting bags can be ordered online or purchased at your local nursery or agricultural supplier. When selecting your potting bag, choose tall bags rather than short wide bags so that those roots have space to grow in. Potting bags are cheap – only about R1 per bag.

When a client receives his little seedlings in tube-packs, he must then immediately transplant these seedlings into 1-litre potting bags. Remember that lucerne trees generally do not like to have their roots disturbed and so follow our step-by-step transplant instructions exactly and keep the soil around the roots intact when transplanting them. You can view these instructions here.

Although it is winter here in South Africa, and plant growth is slow, it is good to start now. Order your seeds and seedlings by filling in the contact form on our Orders page. Your seeds will have a head-start while kept sheltered, and by spring, when soil temperatures begin to warm, they will begin their real growth and should be tall enough and ready to plant out by summer. We do not have any trees in bags in stock at the moment. All our trees and seedlings are R15 per tree regardless of size or packaging.

Happy Farming!

Seedlings available!

Spring has sprung and our lucerne tree nursery is bursting with freshly potted new lucerne tree seedlings and trees!

We have potted out small lucerne trees in individual 1-litre potting bags to grow to 30-40cm in their bags before being planted out, and we have seedlings in their nifty tube-packs ready to be couriered to clients all across South Africa at very economical rates due to their low volumetric weight.

These tube-packed trees need to be transplanted into 1-litre potting bags once they arrive, and so we recommend clients have their potting bags and well-drained soil mix in place before they order their little trees. They will need about 3-4 months to grow up to 30-40cm tall and then they can be planted in summer this year.

Because lucerne trees’ roots grow so fast, these trees in tube-packs have a very limited time before they need to be transplanted into bigger potting bags. We therefore have limited stocks in season and will place any unclaimed or unsold tube-pack trees into potting bags after about 1 month.

Now is the perfect time to order your trees. Fill in the contact form on our Orders page, and we will send you all the information and details you need to start your lucerne tree farming.

Trees in Tubes ~ Transplant Successfully!

We have created new tube packaging to make transplanting young lucerne trees couriered across South Africa much more successful.  Please read our updated transplant recommendations below.

Little lucerne tree seedlings ready to be potted into 1-litre potting bags

These little seedlings have been germinated and immediately potted into their tubes with our potting soil.  When they are about 6cm-10cm tall, they are strong enough to be transported.  Each little tree in its soil weighs about 150 grams, making courier costs far less expensive.

This tube method is far more successful than couriering bare-rooted trees as we have done previously. The soil in the tubes means that we do not disturb the roots by putting them into bare-rooted packaging. Our clients can transplant them with all their soil on their roots directly into potting bags, also preventing any disturbance to the trees’ roots. As these little trees have been growing in their tubes, there is no immediate rush to transplant them, however, they should be watered and kept protected until ready to transplant into potting bags.

When transplanting these little trees into potting bags, you will need ~20200207_085847

  1. a Stanley knife or sharp blade to cut open the tube plastic packaging.
  2. 1-litre potting bags – taller rather than wider bags – empty
  3. Mix of well-drained potting soil & sand with no compost or manure.

The goal of transplanting successfully is not to disturb the roots or expose them to air or drying out. 

How to transplant your trees into their potting bags UPDATED ~ Note that we recommend you rather put your seedling into an empty potting bag and then fill it with soil around the plant because some clients have found that squeezing the tube-pack soil into the hole disturbed the soil around the roots of the seedling.


  1. First, ensure that all the soil in the tube packaging is wet and well-watered before you start.
  2. Now lay your seedlings in tubes flat and slice each tube package along the length of the plastic .
  3. Carefully lift the tree with all the soil still clumped around the roots out of the packaging.  When the soil is moist it will stay clumped around the roots.  Do not shake or break the soil off the roots.
  4. Place the seedling with all its soil around its roots into the empty potting bag and gently add potting soil around the roots and up to the tree’s stem.
  5. Firm the soil around the transplanted tree making sure that there are no air gaps in the soil.
  6. Water the soil in the potting bags very well. Check regularly by sticking your finger into the potting bag to feel if the soil is damp and water lightly when needed.  Do not over-water your seedlings.

These little lucerne trees are still too small to go directly into your lands.  They should be potted into their 1-litre bags to grow out to at least 30cm tall saplings before being planted into your lands.  These potted trees will settle in well over winter if kept in a sheltered spot where they are protected from any frosts and icy winds. An area covered with some shade cloth will be perfect.

Please fill in the contact form on our Orders page and we will email you a quote or invoice or answer any questions you may have.

Keep safe and healthy during the lockdown.

Video – How to pot bare-rooted trees into bags

We courier bare-root lucerne trees to clients all across South Africa and we are confident of your success if you follow our tried-and-tested transplanting instructions.  Here is a  video to show how we transplant bare-rooted lucerne trees into our 1-litre potting bags ~

It is vital that you immediately pot out your newly collected trees into individual 1-litre potting bags and keep them in a sheltered spot until they reach about 30cm in height.   This growth could take another month or so, depending on the temperature.

To save on transport costs, we courier our young lucerne trees bare-rooted.  We take young saplings out of their potting bags, remove most of their soil and package them in some moist soil.  We wrap the root bundle in wet newspaper and place the bundle in plastic bags to keep the roots covered and moist. Bare-rooted trees can survive several days so long as the roots are not dried out.

Plant out your trees immediately into potting bags filled with potting or topsoil soil.  Do not use compost or manure in your mix.  Water the soil in the potting bags just before you transplant your trees.

Here’s how to transplant your bare-rooted trees into potting bags ~

  1. Once you receive your trees, open the bundle and carefully unwrap the trees. Place the roots and soil into a bowl of water.20191123_115200
  2. Gently loosen the trees and do not simply pull them apart. It is imperative that you do not break the roots when you separate the trees!20191123_115714
  3. Use your finger and make a hole in the soil in the potting bag, deep enough for the roots to go their full length. 20191123_115726
  4. Gently ease the roots into the prepared hole, making sure the roots are able to fit into the hole without damaging them.20191123_115737
  5. Firm the soil gently around the roots and stem.  There should be no air pockets in the soil or else the roots will dry out and die.  Trees like to have a snug fit in their bag.20191123_115740
  6. Water well immediately.  Thereafter water lightly regularly, but don’t over-water as these trees don’t like sitting in prolonged soggy soil. 20191123_122235
  7. The trees often go into transplant shock and may look wilted and take several days to recover. Should the tips remain wilted after two weeks after planting, prune the damaged tips. If most of the leaves fall off but the stem remains green, your tree may still bud again, so don’t give up too soon.
  8. Protect your trees and prevent anything from eating them. Keep an eye out for snails and sprinkle snail bait around your bags

Once your saplings reach 30-40cm tall, plant them out into your land as described in our step-by-step planting instructions.  This is the very simple yet successful method we use to our transplant trees into bags.

Please share your experiences with us via our email ~  Order your trees today!

We wish you every success!


Limited Late Summer Stocks

We are entering early winter here in South Africa, and the last of our late summer lucerne trees in  their individual bags will soon need to be planted out.


Because lucerne trees have very vigorous root growth, they will soon be limited by the size of their potting bags.  Pot-bound trees just never do well  when eventually planted out, often remaining slow and spindly instead of budding and flourishing.12 c

We normally plant out any of our remaining lucerne tree stock on our farm or we are forced to compost excess saplings that have stood too long in their bags.  Please order now to avoid disappointment.

Late this summer we started germinating lucerne tree seeds which have all come up.  P1150188We will transplant these into individual potting bags to grow out in the nursery during winter.  Although growth slows dramatically in the cold season, these little seedlings will be well on their way to grow into saplings come early spring.

We have had several deposits for large orders of lucerne trees which we will hold in reserve and nurture in our nursery until September and late spring before we courier them to clients across South Africa.  This gives you, the client time to prepare your lands and fence in your fields or camps where the trees will be planted.

Most tree losses are from insufficient protection from both wild and domestic animals who snack the tender saplings in an evening of foraging, so putting up fences is a very important part of your tree management.  Remember to approach planting lucerne trees as if you are planting out a fruit orchard.  Management is the key to success.

Now is the perfect time to try your hand at germinating your own seeds.  If you follow our tried and tested methods which come with your seed packs, you will enjoy the thrill of growing out your own trees.  These little seeds will need a warm spot to germinate and then a sheltered place to grow in their bags.

Order your seeds and trees now!

Life is in the Seed!

Planting Bare-rooted Trees

Please note ~ Due to importation restrictions; strict import & bio-security regulations, we do not ship trees internationally.

Please note ~ Due to importation restrictions; strict import & bio-security regulations, we do not ship trees internationally. We can only courier trees to clients living in South Africa.

To keep transport costs low we courier young bare-rooted lucerne trees with Overnight/ Express service to main centres to arrive within 1 day.  Clients living outside main cities can expect to wait another working day for collection or door-to-door delivery, so within 2-3 days you will have your trees.  

Place your order for bare-rooted trees on our Prices & Orders page and we will send you trees to plant straight away!

Bare-rooted trees can survive so long as the roots are not dried out. These bare-rooted trees’ roots are covered with some moist soil and then wrapped in wet paper towels, paper and plastic to keep the exposed roots covered and moist

Clients will need to have their holes prepared  before the delivery is sent = Dig each hole +40cm deep + 1 cup of compost + half a cup of phosphates (optional). Refill the hole and mix with the soil removed from the hole.

It is vital that you immediately plant out your newly collected trees.

© Lucerne Tree Farm
  1. Once you receive your parcel, carefully unwrap the trees, lay them flat with their roots in a tray or bowl of water. (Don’t leave the roots soaking in the water for too long – just until you have separated them and are ready to plant them.)  If you are working without soaking the roots, keep the roots covered with the wet soil and paper and re-wrap the rest of the bundle as you plant each tree. DO NOT LET THE ROOTS DRY OUT!
  2. Gently loosen and lift each one and do not simply pull them apart.  It is imperative that you work carefully not to break the roots when you separate each tree. 
  3. Fill the prepared holes in your land with water
  4. Then plant each tree into the prepared holes, making sure the roots are able to fit into the hole without damaging them.
  5. Refill the hole, firming the soil gently around the roots and then water again well
  6. Transplanted trees may look wilted and may need a few days to recover. Should the tree tips remain wilted after two weeks after planting, trim off the damaged tips.
  7. Water lightly regularly, but don’t over-water as these trees don’t like sitting in wet soil.

Your young saplings should be managed as if you are planting out a fruit orchard.  Check them regularly for signs that critters are eating them such as snails and take appropriate action. Protect each tree for 18-months to 2 years. Don’t forget to prune your young trees to promote side-branches and to keep your trees to 1-meter tall.

You can view all our step-by-step instructions and photos covering our tried and tested methods of how we prepare the lands, how to calculate the spacing, plant in ploughed rows and the different irrigation methods under Planting Trees.

Happy Farming!

Ready-to-plant trees

Our lucerne tree nursery is bursting with saplings ready to plant. All our trees are going at R10 a tree and we have thousands of trees in stock!

We courier these saplings across the country with PostNet’s Overnight service. This means that you could collect your trees the next day and plant them immediately into your prepared holes in your lands.

While this method is a fairly high-risk approach, we always tuck in a lot of “spare” bare-rooted trees in the parcel as a back-up for any tree that doesn’t recover from its transplant shock.

We also have lucerne trees in individual potting bags. Clients who wish to visit us here on our farm and collect their trees should place an order and make an appointment for their visit.

Update ~ These trees are only available for South African clients. We are not permitted to courier trees internationally due to strict import and bio-security laws.

Please pop over to our Price & Orders page to fill our contact form and place an order or ask for a quote.

Update ~ These trees are only available for South African clients. We are not permitted to courier trees internationally due to strict import and bio-security laws.

Happy Farming!