Preparing the Root System

Bedding plants and groundcovers need little preparation prior to trans­planting due to their method of propagation. If contained in peat pots, the plants can be set directly into the prepared soil. Those grown in plastic or clay production containers should have them removed before planting. If the root system has become pot bound (wadded and grow­ing around themselves), the root mass should be squeezed gently to break it apart and the roots pulled downward before planting (Figure 10-5).

For bare root and containerized shrubs and trees, an inspection of the root system should precede planting. Any matted or encircling roots should be straightened. All damaged, dead, or otherwise unhealthy roots should be pruned back to healthy tissue. Containerized plants may ben­efit by having their root ball cut at intervals all around to encourage new growth that will be properly oriented. The cuts should be on the bottom half of the root mass (Figure 10-6).

Another technique used to overcome the girdling tendency of some containerized plants is butterflying. It requires the soil ball to be split half way up its center so that the root system can be spread apart (like butterfly wings) when placed into the planting hole. If the potentially

figure 10-6. Containerized plants can become pot bound. Before transplanting, they should be removed from the container and the root mass cut vertically at 2-inch intervals on the lower half to promote new root growth that is oriented properly. (Delmar/Cengage Learning)

girdling roots are in the top half of the soil ball, butterflying will not help. However, where applicable, the technique can promote a more natural root orientation in the new transplant.