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Location: Red Bluff, CA

kindasorta bare root

Have just purchased a weeping Santa Rosa plum for my yard. Received it shortly after it went from 'bare root' to container at the nursery. When planting it, the entire rootball fell apart leaving, in effect, a bare root plant. It has the beginnings of leaf buds and, the afternoon of the day it was planted, a bloom appeared.

Should I anticipate problems with this tree? Have I damaged the root system by losing the (not yet formed) rootball?

Advice and information would be most welcome.

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

Hm. Did they sell it to you like it was an established container tree? I would be inclined to feel cheated.

...on the other hand, if the timing was right, bareroot trees are not any more difficult and has better chance of establishing than overgrown or past planting season container trees that have been neglected.

If you are satisfied that it is a healthy tree, I think you just need to treat it like you planted a bareroot tree. Did you make a conical mound and spread the roots out as best you could? Did you fill between the roots so they have good soil contact? Hopefully, they already soaked it when first planting in the container, but bareroot trees need to be watered in well so there are no air pockets. It probably needs support until it has better grip on the ground.

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Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:09 am
Location: Red Bluff, CA

Thanks for the response. I knew it was recently potted, but my wife desperately wanted one before the season got too warm and I discounted potential issues. Dumb? perhaps, but 'happy wife is happy life'. :)

The tree does/did seem quite healthy. Roots were more on a horizontal plane, and were spread and properly covered with soil. Fully watered it in (I've dealt with bareroot in the past) and entered a four-day rain period that very afternoon, so moisture and lack of air pockets seem to be non-issues.

I guess my biggest concern is damage to the roothairs that were forming as the rootball fell apart. Did use their potting soil as well as a mixture of the natural and soil amendments to utilize the fertilizers that the nursery applied to their soil.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:11 am
Location: Sussex. England

Just as a matter of interest.....

Maiden fruit trees are remarkably stable as regards root growth providing three points are observed.
The tree itself must be healthy and free of desease...canker etc, and it must be a maiden. In its first year of growth after grafting.
Planted into well prepared soil and staked securely.
Water and mulched for the first season.
If all these are done then you can even risk a planting system that is often carried out on intensive planting’s.
This is called ...Stringfellowing...after the grower M Stringfellow from Texas who trialed pruning all the roots at planting.
We on the farm planted over a thousand trees in two days by this method...we just rammed an iron bar in the ground to make the hole ...cut ALL the roots off, just leaving a few fine roots...and then jammed the tree in the hole and stamped on the ground to firm up and then walked onto the next tree.
Out of a thousand trees we lost just ten!
We had prepared the soil well before, and we staked firmly straight after planting.

East Malling Research Station carried out trials on this system many years ago. They planted normally and by Stringfellowing and a year later lifted the trees to look at root growth. Surprisingly, the root growth after a year was almost identical.
I’m not advocating planting this way in the garden situation but it just shows how much abuse a healthy young tree can take and still survive if it’s given the chance.

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