Back East, you may find nursery plants wrapped in soil and burlap, but in  Southern California, they nearly always come in containers. Understanding container sizes and prices will save you money, and may affect your landscape’s rate of growth. Here’s a quick rundown on what you’ll find when shopping for trees and shrubs from least to most expensive.

Bare-root: The exception to the rule. Only roses and fruit trees are sold this way, and only in fall and winter.

Liners: Rooted cuttings, particularly native species, sometimes come in these thin plastic sheaths.

Plastic pots: You’ll find most nursery plants in sturdy plastic pots, usually 1 gallon, 5 gallons or 15 gallons in size. Generally speaking, the larger the pot, the older the plant.

Wooden boxes: Older trees and a few really big shrubs are grown in wooden containers, usually 24 inches square, but ranging up to 64 inches.

If you’re shopping for annuals you’ll find them in a variety of container sizes, from plastic six-packs to 6-inch pots. Ground covers come either as bare or rooter cuttings. When rooted, they’re sold by the flat, up to 64 plants at a time.

Most people love the “instant landscaping” look of mature plants. But if you;re willing to start with young sprouts and wait a season or two, you’ll see the same results for much less money.In fact, because younger plants root faster after transplanting, they often eventually outgrow their elders.

Younger plants generally root quickly and often outgrow older plants sold in larger containers.

Remember to space your young plants so they don’t become crowded as they mature.

Buy annuals in six-packs or pots, ground covers, by the flat.

You can sometimes purchase young roses and fruit trees as bare-root plants.