Newly Registered
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:36 pm

Planting trees and shrubs from containers

Hi all

When planting trees and shrubs from containers the planting instructions always say that when pulling the plant out of the container, to straighten out the roots before planting. Well in any that I've planted the roots are so packed, there is no way you could ever dis-entangle them without breaking them off. I don't understand how this can possibly be done! My brother in-law was a landscaper and when he pulled plants out of a container he takes a knife and slices the root ball on four sides before planting and says that this is the way it should be done.



Greener Thumb
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:26 am
Location: North Carolina

You do not want to disturb the ball and your brother-in-law seems to have the best soultion. Besides there should be no roots protruding from the root ball unless they have been in the container for years then you'd have to cut up the container.

Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:17 am
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

The cutting the sides isn't a bad solution if you're in a hurry but actually on many species you can disturb the ball with impunity and the plant will thank you for it. The caveat is do not allow the roots to dry out which can happen in a matter of a very few minutes if you decide to work in the sun on a breezy, low humidity day.

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Just a couple of months ago, we transplanted a young fig start (maybe 3 years old by now? purchased when only 2 years old?) into the ground.

I just *knew* that the poor thing's roots were going around and around the pot, even before we took it out of the pot. So...

DH dug a big hole. Much bigger than you would expect would be needed. We backfilled it partway with some of the excavated soil. (This soil had been, several years ago, improved with our homemade compost.) THEN I took the fig out of its pot, scored down the sides eight times (yes, every 45 degrees), and trimmed an inch or so (maybe 3 cm) straight across off the bottom of the root ball.

We placed the fig into the hole and watered the bottom.

We filled the hole with compost and potting soil and watered again.

We "over-filled" the hole to allow for future settling and watered yet again. (I may have over-corrected at this stage; I now have a "crown" rather than an almost-flat surface.)

So far, the tree has kept its leaves, even though it was in a growth stage when we transplanted it, and has valiantly set a couple of figs!

I also watered in liquid kelp a couple of weeks after we had placed the tree in the ground.

Good luck!

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9/Sunset Zone 17

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