(55) Root Pruning Techniques Do Not Help Pot-bound Plants

in HortScience
Authors:
Jeffrey H. Gillman1University of Minnesota, Dept. of Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN, 55108

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Chad P. Giblin1University of Minnesota, Dept. of Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN, 55108

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Gary R. Johnson2University of Minnesota, Forest Resources, St. Paul, MN, 55108

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Plants that have been grown in containers for a long period of time frequently develop roots that grow in circles, following the contour of the container in which they have been planted. This condition is commonly referred to as “pot-bound.” It is considered common knowledge that if a pot-bound plant is transplanted without any treatment, its roots will continue to follow the contour of the now-removed container. There are, however, a number of transplanting techniques that are intended to reorient the roots in a direction that will be conducive to helping roots to grow out of this potentially harmful situation. These techniques include: butterflying, or slicing the rootball into two halves before planting; scoring, or making inch-deep slices around the rootball at 90° increments and an X-shaped slice across the bottom; or teasing, where roots are manually pulled out of the shape of the container in a direction perpendicular to the stem. Severely pot bound Salixalba and Tiliacordata were treated with one of the three treatments previously listed or as a control and were transplanted into an experimental field and grown for two full seasons. After two seasons, the trees were harvested and the number and size of roots escaping from the pot-bound region were recorded. None of the treatments allowed roots of any size to escape the pot-bound mass more effectively than the control.

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