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'Stunted' potted plants cannot reach full potential - Julich Research Institute - BBC Nature Article

 
Brian Henry
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Location: Anguilla BWI, Nova Scotia when stuff grows
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I trust this is the best forum section to post this?

Nothing new in below, as I have heard Podcasts on issue of direct seeding vs potted plants. The MRI aspect may be of use if making the argument to another ... who does not listen to Paul.

'Stunted' potted plants cannot reach full potential


Plants grown in pots never reach their full potential, images of their roots show.

A medical imaging technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used by researchers to capture plant pot root snapshots.

The pictures reveal that the roots "sense the size of the pot" and restrict the growth of the plant.

The findings have been presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Salzburg, Austria.

Lead researcher Hendrik Poorter, from the Julich research institute in Germany, told BBC Nature that as soon as he saw the results, he re-potted all of his houseplants.

"I thought, you poor guys, what have I done to you?" he recalled.

For the imaging study the research team focused on two species - sugarbeet and barley.

Dr Poorter's colleague Dagmar van Dusschoten produced the MRI scans. The technique, used widely in medicine, reveals the water molecules within the plant roots.

The resulting 3D map of the roots' structure stretching to the outer limits of the pot shows, for the first time, exactly how restricted potted plants are.

In their experiments on 80 different species, the team found that doubling a pot's size caused a plant to grow almost half as big again.

"The most surprising thing is that there seems to be no end to the pot limitation," explained Dr Poorter.

"For every plant species we looked at, pot size was the factor limiting its growth."
'Happy' plants

Within as little as two weeks of seeds being sown, the scientist explained, a plant's roots would stretch to the edge of the pot and then, "the trouble starts".

"When they reach the edge, they send some kind of signal to the shoots to say, 'there's a problem - stop growing'."

Each plant appeared to be trying to escape its pot; more than three quarters of the root system was in the outer half of the container.

"The inside of the pot is hardly used," explained Dr Poorter.

Research in this subject has, in the past, focused on pot size from the perspective of how small a container plants can be grown in, as the aim is to grow as many plants as possible per square metre in a commercial setting.

But Dr Poorter said: "We want to make plants as happy as possible."

Although this may sound sentimental, understanding a plant's full potential is crucial for the researchers that study them; it reveals how much of a parallel can be drawn between studies carried out in the lab and how plants would grow in nature.

"Even the largest pot was not large enough not to limit growth."

Prof Andrew Fleming from the University of Sheffield said the use of MRI was a "neat approach" to studying plants.

He told BBC Nature: "It shows how novel (live) imaging can be used to provide new insights into how plants actually grow."
 
James Colbert
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This year I planted watermelons and sunflowers by direct seed and by transplant. The transplants all sat doing nothing for at least 2 weeks before there was positive growth, that is if they survived. The direct seed plants pop out of the ground and just grow and grow non stop. On top of that, plants that were transplanted were attacked by pests to a greater degree. The exact same variety direct seeded would rarely be attacked by pests.

I think sometimes pots are necessary. In those cases root pruning pots are the best option. The plant sets dense roots throughout the pot and when transplanted there is less shock. I've been experimenting making my own with landscape/weed block fabric.
 
Judith Browning
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I have heard this and experienced some slow growth ofplants in pots...I start seeds in "old fashioned" wooden flats, but still transplant to plastic pots and some plants do seem to sit there for a bit after transplant to the garden. how are you making the pots? I would love to use something that would decompose but don't want to go to peat.
 
duane hennon
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c7FyujVNP8

a home built system like this should not be too hard to make

I've made pots of fiberglass window screen for smaller plants,which works very well. screen is stapled together
it is not sturdy enough for tree size pots
 
James Colbert
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I used a regular plastic pot as a mold and wraped the landscape fabric around it then glued together with epoxy. Still a work in progress. For larger plants like trees you can create a frame with hog wire for extra support.
 
Brian Henry
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Location: Anguilla BWI, Nova Scotia when stuff grows
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The critical information I took from the study was the part
"The most surprising thing is that there seems to be no end to the pot limitation," explained Dr Poorter.
"For every plant species we looked at, pot size was the factor limiting its growth."

Within as little as two weeks of seeds being sown, the scientist explained, a plant's roots would stretch to the edge of the pot and then, "the trouble starts".

"When they reach the edge, they send some kind of signal to the shoots to say, 'there's a problem - stop growing'."

Each plant appeared to be trying to escape its pot; more than three quarters of the root system was in the outer half of the container.

"The inside of the pot is hardly used," explained Dr Poorter.


Found study site and the MRI pics comparing direct seeded to potted were remarkable. The article link does have two MRI pics for comparison.
I did change title of article from "Pot" to "Potted" as thought many looking just at the title would have thought a different type of plant topic entirely.

Brian
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