Gardening Tips

Root pruning: when and how to do it

Root pruning: when and how to do it

Pruning the roots of a plant is something that tends to give a lot compared to those who are less used to it, but in reality it is a very common and habitual technique, which can provide great benefits to a plant when carried out properly .

if you want to learn when is root pruning done and how to do itstay and keep reading this EcologíaVerde article in which we show you a simple and practical guide on the subject.

When to prune roots

There are several reasons to prune the roots of a plant. The roots are the organ through which the plant absorbs nutrients, but this absorption can only be carried out by the root hairs, which only young roots have.

For this reason, the roots of the plant never stop growing and especially in the case of plants in pots, they end up colonizing all the available space, exhausting the nutrients and requiring a transplant to a larger container or simply a renovation of the space by pruning the roots.

Cut the roots when transplanting the plant to a new space or container can also help it to develop better and adapt more quickly to its new space, stimulating the growth of new roots, even in the case of outdoor plants.

Of course, pruning should always be done during the plant dormant period, so that we stress it and damage it as little as possible. In most cases, this means that it will have to be carried out sometime between late fall and winter.

How to Prune the Roots of a Potted Plant

When a potted plant has grown too large, its roots end up sticking to the ends of the container and creating a solid mass that ruins the properties of the substrate, eventually leading to the death of the plant over time. In these cases, it is necessary to resort to timely root pruning, whether the individual is transplanted to a larger space or if we want to keep it in the same container to prevent it from growing more. Follow these steps:

  1. Start by remove the plant from its current pot. If the size of the plant allows it, turn it upside down, carefully picking up the root ball. If it’s too big for that, turn it on its side and roll it, tapping gently on the sides, to separate it from the pot. If you still can’t remove it because the roots are too stuck, you can water it. It will weigh more, but it will also come apart more easily.
  2. Once you have the root ball separated, take a very sharp knife and sterilize it with alcohol. Then, very carefully, cut the outermost part that touched the potboth soil and roots, making a circle narrower than the one that the pot formed. Fearlessly cut fine and thin rootsbut avoid damaging any solid wood you notice, as well as tap roots like a bulb, which would most likely kill the plant.
  3. After thus cleaning the outer layer, remove the soil carefully with your fingers or a pick to be able to examine the condition of the roots. Prune darkened roots or those with a soft look or wet, and apply fungicide if necessary.
  4. Carefully untangle the roots as much as possible, and trim the root ball a maximum of a third of its original size, that is, it reduces the size of the plant.
  5. Finally, you can replant the root ball in a new container, with a new substrate and enriched with fertilizer, although the new roots will be more efficient at absorbing nutrients, so it will need less than before. Give the plant a few days in a semi-shaded location to recover and after a week you can return it to its final location.
Root Pruning: When and How to Do It - How to Prune the Roots of a Potted Plant

How to prune the roots of a tree

Before you start to prune the roots of a tree you need assess your health. If after checking it you get poor results, we recommend you not to do the pruning. This also applies to old trees that do not have the capacity to face this type of treatment. In the same way, avoid performing this type of operation if the tree does not have good stability. Keep these tips in mind for pruning the roots of a tree:

  • Pruning the roots is a process that will put the tree to the test, so if you are not an expert it is always better turn to professionals.
  • If you have all the necessary knowledge to prune the roots of a tree, start determining the optimal root ball size to avoid too aggressive pruning. Next, you need to calculate and mark the drip line that the tree needs to hydrate and that pruning does not interrupt this process necessary for its growth.
  • If you want to make sure that you do the pruning correctly, never remove more than 20% of the roots on the floor. To remove them use a sharp shovel to cut only the necessary roots and make a clean cut that avoids possible diseases.
  • Lastly, make sure you have adequate moisture after pruning. To do this, carry out a constant irrigation that maintains the near root zone with optimum moisture avoiding puddles.
  • Similarly, remember that each species prefers a different season of the year for this type of treatment. Check the characteristics of your tree to avoid pruning during the flowering and growth months.

Now that you have learned about root pruning, we advise you to get to know them even better by reading these EcologíaVerde posts on Types of roots and Parts of the root and their functions.

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