Root ball slicing is often recommended for root-bound woody ornamentals to promote new root development during establishment in the landscape. It is a common practice among gardeners, but not necessarily landscapers, to disrupt root-bound annuals during transplant. However, little if any evidence exists for such practices. Therefore, this study evaluated the effect of root ball condition of annual bedding plants on landscape establishment and growth. Begoniasemperflorens were transplanted from 0.72-L (#1) containers into field plots in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter and managed with Best Management Practices. Three root ball conditions were evaluated: non root-bound (6-week-old plants), root-bound (10-week-old plants), and root-bound with the bottom 1 cm of the root ball removed. Shoot and root dry masses and growth indices were collected weekly for 12 weeks and evaluated relative to root ball condition by linear regression analysis. Nonroot-bound plants had significantly greater biomass, growth indices, height, and root dry weights than the other treatments tested. No significant differences were found between root-bound and manipulated root-bound plants for any parameter examined. The data indicate that the practice of disrupting root-bound plants has no benefit on establishment or growth of annual bedding plants in the landscape.
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