BML
Full Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:10 am
Location: The village of Steventon In Oxfordshire England

What to do with rot balls.

I have just bought a six fot holly tree but found that the root ball is very solid. Should I attempt to untangle it or should I just bung it in?

wingdesigner
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2038
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:58 pm
Location: Michigan--LP(troll)

Unless wiser members say otherwise, I'd try to tease out some from the outer edges. Failing that, take a sharp knife and score vertically around the bottom third to half of the root ball, and the very bottom, cut through the root ball with each slice about a third of the way in/deep. I'd also score the sides of the hole or rough up the sides a bit, to encourage the roots to grow out into surrounding soil. It sounds so potbound now that a smooth-sided hole would only make the roots think they're still in a pot. Also, no amendments in the hole; just the native soil you dug out, otherwise the same "pot mentality" may still apply. In spring after it leafs out then work in some amendments of choice.
Happy gardening,
Wingdesigner

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Great advice from Wingdesigner. A rootball that is too tightly bound won't allow for water to be absorbed in the center if it's not watered deeply. Here's how to tease out the roots, plant, water and mulch your new tree.
https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/rootgrowthcontainers.html
https://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=70

https://www.arborday.org/trees/video/howtoplant.cfm
https://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/plantsci/trees/f1147w.htm
https://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/mulching.aspx
https://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/water/az1298/
https://www.watersaver.org/pdfs/FALL_CARING_FOR_TREES.pdf

Newt

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