I recently got a potted, rootbound corkscrew willow, and was wondering what the best way to plant. The tree is 6-7' tall and maybe a 2" diameter trunk. Should I cut the roots to unbind them and plant as usual?
Or since it is a willow would it be better to bury it on its side with just a few side limbs sticking out of the ground.
Not sure if it matters, but I am mainly growing it to get cool looking sticks for walking sticks and children toys.
Willow strikes really easily from cuttings. I'd be looking at the plant as it is now in it's pot as a source of sticks to take cuttings from. Rather than trying to plant one root bound plant which may struggle and die you could make 20 or more cuttings this year and keep the potted plant for taking more cutting next year. Your healthy cuttings when established on their own unrestricted roots will do much better than the pot bound parent.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
Location: Northeast Arkansas
posted 5 years ago
What size cuttings will work? How deep do the sticks need to be pushed down, and how much left exposed above ground?
Should I do anything with the potted plant, such as trim roots? Or should i just take cuttings until nothing is left?
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
posted 5 years ago
Here's how I deal with rootbound trees (actually most potted trees, as they're nearly always a bit rootbound).
It's pretty brutal, but nearly all survive, and I'd say if anything will make it, a willow will
1. soak the pot in a bucket for ages to loosen the soil (like overnight)
2. Remove the pot and swish the rootball vigorously around in the bucket.
When I plant, I generally try to get most of the potting soil off the roots: I like trees to be in native soil straight away.
3. start cutting the encircling roots back to where they're straight with sharp secateurs.
I cut a lot of the fine feeder roots right off; they grow back quite fast.
I try to leave most of the thick 'anchor roots', if they're not tangled/deformed.
Since the tree's rootbound, even if it has a taproot, it will most probably be deformed.
4. Keep swishing it as you cut, soil will come away as roots are cleared.
You might even need to put a strong hose jet on it if it's really tangled and the potting mix won't shift.
5. When you've root pruned till you feel a bit cruel
and cleaned off nearly all or all the mix, get the tree in the ground asap.
Trees hate having their roots exposed, and hate them drying out even more.
I'd even suggest doing it when it's not a sunny day.
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