Transplanting pot to pot - root ball question & and when?

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)May 19, 2011

I have 3 potted fig trees from Edible Landscaping in 1 or 2 gallon pots. I plan to transplant them into much bigger pots with a different growing medium. The soil they are in now looks like typical potted plant soil - - dark and rich and sort of heavy. I want to lighten up my soil to allow for better drainage.

My question is what should I do about the existing roots/soil? I imagine when I remove them from the pot, they will be slighty rootbound and the soil ball will be a massive chunk of "soild" dirt. My concern is if I just plop this into a new pot with lighter soil, will there be a problem because of the different soil types?

Should I try to remove as much of the existing dirt as I can so nearly all the soil in the new pot is the same consistancy? Or will that do more harm than good?

Second question: Since the warm weather is about to hit, would it be better to keep them (undisturbed) in small pots this summer and then transplant them into larger ones in the fall when there is less chance of shock?


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If you notice that the plant is root-bound, just spray the outer inch or so of soil from around the root ball. The intent is to have the roots start growing into your medium. There is really no need to worry about the nursery soil doing harm to your plants. Also, bury the root ball 2" deeper than it was growing at the nursery. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:11PM
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Did you mean 2 inch higher?

A tree planted with its root ball 2 inches lower (or any depth lower) than the soil level will have problems in couple of year.

Roots will circle the trunk of the tree and gradually strangling the tree to death. It called girdling root.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:46PM
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You can pot-up now and but do keep the bulk of the root ball.

I think what igo4fish meant by 'spray', was to loosen/scrape
(or similar) the outer layer of the root ball.

To avoid root-circling (a possible future self-strangling),
using a sharp knife (e.g., a box cutter), I usually
'score' (i.e., shallow/slice/cut) the whole root ball
top-to-bottom, at least on one side to break any
circling roots.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:47AM
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Deeper. I said spray with a hose so as not to damage the roots.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 9:12AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Why deeper? Wouldn't that harm the tree/trunk after a while? I'm thinking that 2 inches of soil along would invite rot?


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:51PM
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I always elevate the root ball 2 inches above the soil line since the soil in pot will settle over time. Plant a tree with its root ball 2 inches deeper/below the soil line you will have what its called, girdling root. Gridling root will kill the tree over the time.

Taken from Bill's website,

"When the fig tree is in the pot it is important for the crown to be about 3 inches higher than the rim of the pot".


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 4:10PM
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Elevating root balls above the surface can be tricky. Especially if the raised root ball will act like a wick. It will do this especially if there is a difference between the porosity of the nursery soil and the new soil. Raised root balls are usually only indictated for plants that are susceptible to crown rot (like citrus). The benefit of which is lost by adding a layer of mulch (recommended). Figs are not susceptible. Here is what the Texas Aggies recommend: . Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:59PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thanks for in the info and for the link. Another one for the files!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 4:00AM
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tobybul2 - Zone 6 SW MI(6A)

I have a similar situation. I would like to transfer my 2 chicago figs to another container of the same size. Right now I have each of them in a half barrel. They have been in there for about 2 years. I noticed that they are almost root bound. This is about the biggest container they can be in. I am transferring them to a decorative synthetic oak barrel container.

What do I do with the excessive roots that each plant has when I transfer them?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2014 at 3:26PM
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