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Pruning root balls on trees before planting.

 
Jaime Cameron
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There was that lovely video posted in the garden section a week or so ago of the root lady.
While she was mostly talking about herbs and smaller plants.
The section on trimming the root ball before transplanting in order to encourage new fast growth in an outward pattern instead of the circle they have been stuck in. Got me thinking.
Would it be beneficial to do this with fruit trees?
Or any other for that matter.
because most trees or bushes bought at a plant nursery are at least partly root bound balls.
It also brought to mind the technology of the 'Air pots' that air prune the roots so that they grow straight and dont curl.

Thoughts?
 
Jarryd Seagle
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I have no answer for you personally but I'm greatly looking forward to answers from experienced gardeners.
 
John Polk
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I believe that the better landscapers do, in fact, do some root pruning if the roots have begun to 'swirl' in their confinement. A root that is accustomed to growing in circles will have a hard time finding nutrients and water if it isn't broken of its bad habits. The tree needs to set out a broad, firm anchor system if it hopes to survive the next wind storm.

I would think that a reputable nursery a) wouldn't let their stock get root bound to start with, and/or b) would do the proper pruning before handing the tree over to a paying customer. Big box stores are not to be confused with real nurseries. Don't expect much service (or knowledge) from the big box stores.


 
Casie Becker
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I've seen things get rootbound in reputable nurseries. I had thing get rootbound (slightly) in my seedling pots that I thought were way oversized for the seeds I grew in them. Even though I transplanted into the ground before they had their second set of leaves.
I have really good results simply tearing away any circling roots and planting the rest. I've done it with trees, shrubs, perrenials, and annuals.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Trees should always be pruned (top and roots) before planting. Branches should be trimmed of any dead or broken wood, either back to an outward facing bud or completely flush with the trunk. Notice the shape of the tree and picture how you want it in the future, it's fine to prune it at this point for creating its' basic form. The roots should be trimmed of any dead or damaged parts to prevent fungal diseases. If the tree was root bound, shake loose some of the soil, tease the roots a little to untangle, remove any roots that have grown around the circumference or they will keep growing that way in the ground ( it will always be root bound). Always dig a "$50 hole for a $5 tree", which gives ample room for you to spread the roots out in the hole. A hole not dug wide enough will cause the tree to " J root", where the roots have a slight upwards curve being crammed into a small hole and they continue to grow upwards.
 
Casie Becker
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I think the newer research has suggested not trimming the top. The plant can pull energy reserves from the existing branches to speed root establishment. If there's simply too much top growth you might have a small amount of dieback which can then be pruned back. This lets the plant self select how much top growth is worth supporting. You might prune for shape at this time to take advantage of the smaller size when handling the plant. I would still hold back on that, myself; but I plant the smallest plants I can find so they are as young as possible at establishment.
 
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