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Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

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Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  jewlz2121 on 4/11/2013, 2:54 pm

I am reading in Mel's book. He says to trim the roots if the roots have grown in a circle. Really? It just scares me to think about lopping off the roots. Has anyone done this before with success?
Thanks
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You bet!

Post  cautery on 4/11/2013, 3:12 pm

I absolutely trim roots when I transplant.... There may be exceptions, but I have had no ill effects from it yet...

However, I am pretty conservative when I do it....

I do different things depending on what kind of seedling/transplant it is...

Common: IF any seedling has few roots, but they have become very long, I will trim them back to encourage the few roots to multiply.

On transplants that come from pots where they have become entangled, etc., I generally try to wash the soil away and gently try to untangle... Mostly, I end up trimming them.

The basic idea is to coax the plant into creating a root system that has as many main roots as possible and then causing those main roots to branch off into as many secondary, and tertiary roots as possible.

The larger the surface area of roots present in the root-ball, the more nutrients and water the plant can generally uptake...

As a general rule, I never take more than 1/2 the root mass on trimming.... and more often I take about 1/3 or less.

I'm shooting for a "reverse bush" underground...
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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  H_TX_2 on 4/11/2013, 3:23 pm

Yes. I cut off the edge or corner where the bottom meets the side. Never had any negative reaction from my plants when doing this.

If you cut off the bottom half of the root ball then you might have some problems. When my wife gets flowers she makes a clean cut before placing them in water so they can more easily take in water and live longer. A living plant will do the same thing but will also be able to repair the small amount of roots that you cut.

If you are still scared of doing this then try it on just a few plants this year and see for yourself if it does any damage.
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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  bwaynef on 4/11/2013, 6:50 pm

I don't doubt that my plants would survive my cutting off the roots, but I'd rather break up the rootball (so that the offending circling roots aren't circling anymore) and let them spread in each direction. I've had pretty good luck as a result.
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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  camprn on 4/11/2013, 7:37 pm

To trim, or not, the roots during transplanting? Depends upon how large the plant is, how large the root system is and the type of plant... some don't like having roots disturbed at all. Some types of plants thrive when roots are pruned.

When transplanting store bought, green house grown plants with bound roots, sometimes I just take my garden snips and slice through (not lop off) the congested roots. This tends to promote new growth which gives the seedling a bit of a head start in the garden.

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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  Unmutual on 4/11/2013, 8:16 pm

@jewlz2121 wrote:I am reading in Mel's book. He says to trim the roots if the roots have grown in a circle. Really? It just scares me to think about lopping off the roots. Has anyone done this before with success?
Thanks

I've cut off as much as 30% of the root mass on some seriously bound transplants. I usually just tease the roots out however. It really depends on the plant and the condition of the roots. Generally, the more you cut off, the longer it will take for the plant to bounce back(you may very well get some die back too). I'm talking mostly about annuals here, perennials are a different ball game especially when they're not herbaceous.

I haven't killed a transplant in donkey's years, but then again, I don't give up on them even with severe die back. Water and mulch are usually your best friends with root pruning. It doesn't take long for plants to regrow the small root hairs that actually uptake water and nutrients. They live and die all the time on the plant even when it's healthy(again, generally speaking).

You can always slip the plant out of its pot at the garden center and take a look before you buy it(it's a lot easier when the growing medium is wet). Just don't pull it out by the stalk(or whatever passes for the stalk), tip it upside down and support the growing medium in one hand and try not to touch the plant(have the stalk fitted loosely between 2 fingers with the other 3 supporting the medium). Why is it always difficult to explain simple things in words? I hope I didn't confuse you more!

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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  GWN on 4/12/2013, 10:25 am

What an incredibly interesting thread. Something I have never done intentionally. When root bound significantly I have roughed up the ball. But this is very valuable information. Of course you would not do this for things like squashes and cucumbers etc.... OR fennel, things that really hate their roots disturbed

Thanks
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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  quiltbea on 4/12/2013, 4:43 pm

When I buy the six-cell packs at the store and see that its rootbound, I just gently split it up the middle up the wider side so the roots can grow in another direction.
For larger pots with rootbounds, I usually cut up in 4 places all around with a scissors about an inch deep on the outer edge.
I don't cut away any of the roots, just leave them to find a new route underground.
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Re: Do you trim the roots on your transplants?

Post  brainchasm on 4/13/2013, 4:06 am

@GWN wrote:What an incredibly interesting thread. Something I have never done intentionally. When root bound significantly I have roughed up the ball. But this is very valuable information. Of course you would not do this for things like squashes and cucumbers etc.... OR fennel, things that really hate their roots disturbed

Thanks
Doh! THAT'S why my cucumbers are limping along...didn't realize they were sensitive to transplant/root shock.

FWIW, a friend brought over a "live" sweet basil for dinner from Fresh&Easy. We used a few leaves, but it felt bad to chuck it...so I unpotted it (root-bound all to heck), just cut off the bottom third of the whole rootball, and gave it a square.

It was a little stunned for a week or so, but I'm pretty sure it's hooked in good now. I see new growth, and no signs of die-off or unwarranted wilt. Smile

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