A short video on root pruning of fig trees
to watch click here
if any comments please let me know
Once the roots/soil mass of a plant become congested beyond the point where the entire plant can be lifted from the container with roots and soil intact, the growth rate is reduced. It continues to become reduced as the plant becomes more congested. What the man in the video did wasn't really root-pruning and a full repot, it was much, much closer to simply potting up. Repotting, which usually includes bare-rooting, and potting up are distinctly different. Repotting ensures your plant will have at least the opportunity to grow to it's genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors, but potting up ensures it cannot. When a plant becomes as horribly root-bound as the one in the clip, it's growth would have been negatively affected for a number of years prior, and will remain permanently affected until the condition is corrected. What the man in the video did to the tree, did not correct the problem. He returned the tree to a pot in sad shape and the tree will suffer for it.
Trees that are only potted up are in continual decline, even in spite of what you the grower might look at as a growth spurt after you pot up. What you as a grower look at as a growth spurt is no spurt at all, it is only a plant suffering from depressed growth, returning to a growth rate a little closer to its genetic potential. Here is what really happens and how repotting vs potting up works:
Imagine that plants can grow with a vitality level of 0-10, with 0 being a dead plant. We'll say that the best we can achieve in containers is a level of 9, for the sake of illustration. Over time, say 2-3 years, soils collapse and roots get congested, which negatively affects vitality levels. Let's say that over 3 years our plants decline to a vitality level of 5. When you bare root your plants and do a full repot, removing about half of the roots and concentrating on the larger roots, you can return your plant to a vitality level of 9, and you can do it indefinitely - every time you repot; but if you only pot up, you cannot return the plant to a vitality level of 9 - perhaps only 8 is attainable at first. Then, while both plants are again in decline over the same period, the plant that was potted up might slip to a vitality level of 4 while the repotted plant only slips to its usual 5. Potting up again only restores the potted up plant to a vitality level of 7. The plant slides again to a level of 3, and potting up restores it to 6. Then 2 restored to 5, then 1 restored to 4.
This steady decline may not occur after potting up only 4-5 times, but the illustration is what actually occurs to containerized plants that are only potted up.
The reason bonsai plants can remain at the peak of health for hundreds of years in tiny containers and be passed from generation to generation is primarily due to the fact they are always root-pruned and repotted and not potted up.
Thanks for the feedback much appreciated.
I read some material on this subject and I guess I should have considered information on root pruning of bonsai plants.
The root mass was so massive that I quit the idea of trying to remove all the soil. At the end the objective became to remove an entire side of the root mass. The plan is to cut the other side this fall or next spring.
I just wonder how this tree was able to get so big even if it was never root pruned since it was planted. Another tree that I have seen has never been root pruned since 1994 and it looks fairly small compared to this one.
Once again thank you very much for your comments