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Getting to the Root of the Problem.
August 9, 2016
I recently was telling a friend how I manage to keep small trees and shrubs in container plantings for years. My secret (if you want to call it that) is to routinely ‘root cut’ the trees and shrubs at least once a year then I return them to the original container using new potting soil. Think Bonsai in the general sense.
I tend to do this either in spring, before any new growth appears, or in the late fall after the plant goes dormant. There are several purposes to this technique. One is to keep a tree or shrub in the same container for years without having to continually invest in larger containers. Next it helps to control the rate of growth of the tree/shrub. And lastly, root cutting stimulates the growth of feeder roots, which help take in water and nutrients.
The first picture shows a cedar that I transplanted from my property several years ago (when it was a foot tall) into a pot so I could use it in my front porch landscaping. As you can see I’ve maintained its overall health while still keeping it in a smaller pot.
The next picture shows an old saw I use to ‘root cut’ the plant. I remove the tree from its pot then cut on all four sides, also taking some off the bottom if it’s needed (it wasn’t on this particular tree).
Once that’s done I repot it into the same container with fresh potting soil and a sprinkle of fertilizer and water. This tree will be good for another year if I maintain it’s overall shape with regular pruning.
I’ve kept plants in the same pots for up to 7 years. I’ve changed the location of this particular potted tree several times to help fill in a bare spot in our landscaping or to light it up for Christmas at the front door! Keeping larger plants in pots can give you unlimited landscaping ideas ! Give it a try and let me know how you do! P.S. in case any of you noticed, I did this in the heat of August, which belays my original time frame of spring or late fall. The reason being, the cedars seem to take the heat with no ill effects.