When it comes to planting container grown plants, it’s important to loosen the roots before you plant. But many gardeners are apprehensive to do what’s really needed to loosen the roots for fear of damaging their new plant. My suggestion – just have at it! The plants root must be loosen from the circular growing pattern to ensure water penetration, and that the roots will grow outward on not continue on in a circle. If not loosened, there is a great chance the plant will never grow properly, and many times, die within the first year.
So get serious about getting those roots opened up. For some root balls, you may be able to hand massage the roots apart. But for those that are tightly massed and growing in a circle, it will require using a sharp knife, pruners, or sharp square spade to cut the roots loose; making several vertical cuts down the outside of the root ball 1-2 inches deep. You may even cut away some of the mat of roots from the sides and bottom. This practice is not harmful to the plants, but yet stimulating root regrow, water penetration and getting the new plant off to a great start. Loosening the roots is a must for your plants to be successful.
Note: Sometimes watering the plant a day before planting helps hydrate the plant and the roots, and can make it easier for root loosening. And we have found a ‘soil knife’ is not only a great garden tool, but does a great job helping loosen those root
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