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Root Importance - August 9th, 2020



When buying plants one of the most important things to look for is the root structure of the new plant. Potted and bare root plants need healthy, dense root systems to establish and grow well. The roots absorb nutrients and then bring them up through the vascular system of the plant. The roots also store nutrients during dormant periods.


Lush green top growth is not good for transplants. All of that growth has to be supported by the roots. The more growth on the top of the plants the more water and nutrients are required to help the plant get established. I like to prune my plants before I plant to remove as much top growth as possible without hurting the looks of the plant.


Potted plants can be planted anytime the soil is in condition to dig a hole. The only consideration is that the plant should be soaked thoroughly about every ten days. This means giving it enough water that its soaked to the bottom of the root ball. Watering every two or three days for a few minutes is a waste of time and money. Actually, it does more harm than good.


You are more likely to successfully plant a three- or five-gallon potted shrub or tree than you are a one-gallon plant. The reason is simple. The larger plant has a much larger and denser root system. A four pack of bedding plants is a much better buy than a six pack. You get a third more dirt or roots in a four pack.


I mentioned earlier that potted plants can be planted any time you can dig a hole. I should also say bare root plants and balled and burlap plants are best planted in late winter or very early spring before new growth appears.


I would add that buying plants strictly on price may not be a wise decision. Where a plant has grown, how it was cared for while growing is very important in how easy it is getting it established in our soil and climate.


If the garden center or nursey where you are buying doesn’t know the answers to these questions I would strongly suggest you buy elsewhere.


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