Gardening Advice: Root-bound Plants


Gardening Advice: Root-bound Plants

October 4, 2001

Q: The roots of garden center perennials are often badly matted. Should I tear these apart at planting time? Anne Marie Selby, Macon, Ga.

A: Pot-bound perennials and shrubs are a common problem now that container-grown plants have all but replaced field-grown ones. And yes, tough love is in order. Their roots need to be unwound and cut, then spread to help them venture into surrounding soil more quickly. I pull apart as many as I can with my fingers. When this is too difficult, I take a knife or a machete and make several gashes an inch or so deep all around the root ball. I then dip it in a root-stimulating solution such as a weak manure tea or a fish emulsion. Even with this care, root-bound plants need extra attention, especially watering, during the first season.

Your Comment
All submitted comments are subject to the license terms set forth in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use