The Myth of Fragile Roots and Transplanting

jlt1202

New Member
TRANSPLANTING TIPS & MYTHS!

Ive seen alot of different techniques on transplanting by different growers, and i have created my own way for transplanting, that not only on here i have gotten the wag of their finger at me saying "Thats not good". Until now i was unable to back up my theory that disrupting the roots during transplant is a good/healthy thing to do for there growth.

Here are some images of the amount of roots that have accustomed in my 5 gal BEFORE transplant, my method is to CUT about 2-3 inches deep into the root ball/root system. After setting it in the dirt i separate the cuts and stuff fresh dirt in between the cuts and fill container around it.

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Here is the information that i found that more thoroughly explains why this helps the plant.
:welcome:

Information taken from Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor,
Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University.


The Myth of Fragile Roots
"You shouldn't disturb the rootball when transplanting trees and shrubs"

The Myth
"When you transplant, try not to disturb the roots, just take the whole pot-shaped lump of soil/roots and
pop it into its new home." This and similar advice can be found on web sites and in gardening books, all
which warn us of the fragile nature of roots. When we upend a container and slide out the root ball, it's
an innate response to handle those tiny white and brown strands gingerly so as not to break them. Since
the survival success of a newly installed tree or shrub is dependent upon healthy, functioning roots, it
seems obvious that the more intact the root system the better the chances of establishment. Anything that
damages this intricate web would seem to add to transplant shock.

The Reality
Though gentle handling of roots is good advice when transplanting seedlings, especially annual flowers
and vegetables, woody perennials, shrubs, and trees all benefit from a more vigorous approach. There are
several reasons for this, and surprisingly some of the harshest techniques result in the healthiest plants.
Containerized materials, especially those in gallon sized pots, often have serious root problems as a result
of poor potting-up techniques. Potbound plants exhibit circling root systems, which if not corrected
become woodier and more troublesome the older they get. Eventually these circling root systems become
girdling roots, which can lead to the early death of otherwise healthy trees and shrubs. At transplant
time, a more aggressive approach to root preparation can discover potentially fatal root flaws. Circling
roots, J-hooked roots, knotted roots, and other misshapen roots can often be corrected by careful pruning.
In this manner it's possible to remove those root problems before they threaten the survival of your shrub
or tree.

It's important to realize that roots respond to pruning in much the same way as the crown: pruning
induces new growth. Roots that are pruned at transplant time, especially those that are excessively long
or misshapen, will respond by generating new, flexible roots that help them establish in the landscape. It
is vital that these new transplants are kept well-watered during this time.
A second problem with containerized materials can also be avoided during your root inspection. In
general, the media in the container is a soilless mix with a large proportion of organic matter and pumice.
If transplanted with the plant as part of the root ball, this material will inhibit root development outside
the planting hole. Furthermore, the porous texture of this planting media will often lose water more
rapidly than the surrounding native soil, resulting in increased water stress to your new transplant. It is
much better for root establishment to remove as much of the container material as possible before the
plant is installed. The best use for the discarded container mix is as a topdressing over the disturbed soil.
When covered with wood chips or another mulch that will reduce weed colonization, the container media
serves as a nice source of slow-release nutrients.
____________________________________________________________
The Bottom Line
- Plants with woody roots often need corrective root pruning before transplanting
- Containerized plants are notorious for concealing fatal root flaws
- "Bare-rooting" container plants is a more successful transplanting technique as root flaws can be
corrected and container media removed
- In a healthy, well-watered plant, root pruning at transplant time will induce vigorous new root
growth and assist in establishment
 

TanR

New Member
Thanks for sharing this jlt1202!

I spent almost 15 yrs in various within the landscaping and landscape construction industry and when transplanting most plants we generally made a practice of intentionally disturbing the root ball. While there were some exceptions, we found that disturbing the root structure allowed the transplant to transition to its new environment more quickly, need less water (hot climate), and continue or resume its growth cycle. With heavily root bound plants we would often score using utility knives, but with moderately or less root bound plants a good fluffing of the outer soil down to the thicker stockier roots would usually do the trick. I’ve seen it suggested not to disturb roots on the bottom of the root ball, my experience has been that the plant benefits from the bottom roots being disturbed as well.

Thanks again for sharing.
 

cannasensei

Plant of the Month: April 2013
its a good article, and i dont disagree as i agitate my rootballs as well. however youll notice he does reference that ginger handling of seedlings and annuals is sound advice. the reasonable argument there to me is that cannabis is a diocious woody herbacious annual. and as such should be treated with care as per the advice in the article above.

imo find a happy medium, u wanna encourage them to root into the new dirt and a little agitation imo weeds out the weak so to speak. but you obviously dont wanna be lopping chunks off em either lol. reps!
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
Great post and spot on information. Your technique is very sound, and there is no doubt that pruning the roots of a mature plant will help keep a healthy root system in the new pot. +rep
 

jlt1202

New Member
its a good article, and i dont disagree as i agitate my rootballs as well. however youll notice he does reference that ginger handling of seedlings and annuals is sound advice.

^^^ Please take this into account, iv had couple people PM me on saying to do this with all stages, THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR SMALLER/WEEK PLANTS.... this is for stronger plants that HAVE a well established root system (thats why they are root bound and need to be transplanted).

re reading i can see how it can be lil confusing tho, just be gental to start and you can modify to breaking the roots up as much as you feel conferrable.... you dont HAVE to do this, but it will speed up and rapid the root growth and accumulation into the soil.... the plant will stop growth untill the roots have become stable and can support the new growth, so its best to get the roots to grow as quickly as possible. Recommend adding a root excelerator and Mrcrozy for best results : )
 

cannasensei

Plant of the Month: April 2013

Techman

Well-Known Member
Right On - Great Info! That's how i replant most stuff.

I had some mothers that were outgrowing their pots, I cut off 3" from bottom and 1-2" around all sides and put it back in the same pot with fresh soil. They took off really well after that and I get another 6 months in these pots.
 

jlt1202

New Member
Right On - Great Info! That's how i replant most stuff.

I had some mothers that were outgrowing their pots, I cut off 3" from bottom and 1-2" around all sides and put it back in the same pot with fresh soil. They took off really well after that and I get another 6 months in these pots.

Nice! (secretly i was wondering what i was going to do with my mother plants when they got too big hahah)

*steals tip and runs into grow room : )
 

GigaGrew

New Member
I agree with jimmy6000, whilst this is a good write up for people that insist on the traditional suffocating pots. smart pots, air pots and even fabric shopping bags and even entire shopping trollies (as per previous journals) can be used to completely render this problem non existent with the added benefit of being able to water your soil 360degrees and the proactive stimulation of lateral root branching for maximum nutrient uptake.
 

Jimmycricket

Nug of the Month: Feb 2014
Im sure id probably like fabric pots more. But I get 15-20 gallon normal pots for 2 or 3 bucks.

20 gallon smart pots are 15 bucks.

To me 15 bucks for a single pot seems outrageous.

My little pots like 1 gallons or half gallons or such I get for like 10 cents each too. Smartpots are at least a few bucks. for those size.
 
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