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Amy N. Wright, Stuart L. Warren, Frank A. Blazich and Udo Blum

The length of time between transplanting and subsequent new root initiation, root growth rates, and root growth periodicity influences the ability of woody ornamentals to survive transplanting and become established in the landscape. Research was conducted to compare root growth of a difficult-to-transplant species, Kalmia latifolia L. (mountain laurel), to that of an easy-to-transplant species, Ilex crenata Thunb. (Japanese holly), over the course of 1 year. Micropropagated liners of `Sarah' mountain laurel and rooted stem cuttings of `Compacta' holly were potted in 3-L containers. Plants were grown in a greenhouse from May to September, at which time they were moved outside to a gravel pad, where they remained until the following May. Destructive plant harvests were conducted every 2 to 4 weeks for 1 year. At each harvest, leaf area, shoot dry weight (stems and leaves), root length, root area, and root dry weight were determined. Throughout the experiment, shoot dry weight and leaf area were similar for the two species. New root growth of `Compacta' holly and `Sarah' mountain laurel was measurable 15 and 30 days after potting, respectively. Root length and root area of `Sarah' mountain laurel increased during May through December but decreased during January through May. Root length and root area of `Compacta' holly increased linearly throughout the course of the experiment. Final root: shoot ratio of `Sarah' mountain laurel was one-ninth that of `Compacta' holly. Results suggest that poor transplant performance of mountain laurel in the landscape may be related to its slow rate of root growth.