• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Pruning a Rootball

 
            
Posts: 34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, I have purchased three apple trees and two peach, all of which have been grown in pots and are about three years old. How do I go about pruning the rootball back so the roots don't strangle the plant down the road? Do I just take a knife and start shaving dirt and root off until I see root that is sticking straight out?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
try seeing if you can just straighten the roots out in the hole that you dig..and not prune them..if some are too difficult to straighten then cut them off so they don't encircle..but save as many as you can straighten..don't put a lot of fertilizer in your hole but do put some forest soil in the hole to bring in some good bacteria balance for thos roots
 
            
Posts: 34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda Groth wrote:
try seeing if you can just straighten the roots out in the hole that you dig..and not prune them..if some are too difficult to straighten then cut them off so they don't encircle..but save as many as you can straighten..don't put a lot of fertilizer in your hole but do put some forest soil in the hole to bring in some good bacteria balance for thos roots


Thanks for the input Brenda.

I had bought organic compost, which I was going to dump in the whole of each of the trees. Do you think this is a bad idea? Should I just use forest soil? The reason I was going to amend the soil with the compost is because the trees are going where blue spruce had recently been.
 
                            
Posts: 42
Location: Central Missouri
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Remember, pruning stimulates growth.  Above and below the soil level.

That said, it doesn't sound like your trees are root bound.  If not, I would leave the soil alone so as to not disturb (read, break off) the delicate root hairs.  Similarly, do not drop the pots, as that will also tear off the root hairs.

If the plants *are* root bound, I take a knife and make verticle slices in the mat of roots.  Again, I don't do any other digging or pulling, to protect the root hairs.

Old wisdom was to highly amend the soil when planting, to give the young tree a boost.  More current research has shown this causes the roots to stay in the planting hole, not venturing into the native soil, and they become root bound or girdle the tree.  Trees/bushes planted in this method will be prone to tipping over (popping out of the hole) in high winds. 

The logic is, the tree will be in the native soil for decades, so it may as well get used to it.  The best I do for transplants is put some top soil in the bottom of the hole (ala Brenda's forest soil) and the subsoil on top.  There are no tree roots at the soil surface, only weeds and grass.  So the weeds can have the subsoil    Then I mulch heavily to start feeding the tree and building the soil from above, as nature does.

Even without soil amendments, The roots may hit the compacted soil and just turn and grow around inside the hole.  Again, becoming root bound.  So cut some slits in the side and bottom of the hole with your shovel.  The roots will grow into the slit, have nowhere to turn, and force their way out into the surrounding soil.

 
            
Posts: 34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
S2man wrote:
Remember, pruning stimulates growth.  Above and below the soil level.

That said, it doesn't sound like your trees are root bound.  If not, I would leave the soil alone so as to not disturb (read, break off) the delicate root hairs.  Similarly, do not drop the pots, as that will also tear off the root hairs.

If the plants *are* root bound, I take a knife and make verticle slices in the mat of roots.  Again, I don't do any other digging or pulling, to protect the root hairs.

Old wisdom was to highly amend the soil when planting, to give the young tree a boost.  More current research has shown this causes the roots to stay in the planting hole, not venturing into the native soil, and they become root bound or girdle the tree.  Trees/bushes planted in this method will be prone to tipping over (popping out of the hole) in high winds. 

The logic is, the tree will be in the native soil for decades, so it may as well get used to it.  The best I do for transplants is put some top soil in the bottom of the hole (ala Brenda's forest soil) and the subsoil on top.  There are no tree roots at the soil surface, only weeds and grass.  So the weeds can have the subsoil    Then I mulch heavily to start feeding the tree and building the soil from above, as nature does.

Even without soil amendments, The roots may hit the compacted soil and just turn and grow around inside the hole.  Again, becoming root bound.  So cut some slits in the side and bottom of the hole with your shovel.  The roots will grow into the slit, have nowhere to turn, and force their way out into the surrounding soil.




Great information. Thank you.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic