Back in February I bought some bare root trees (only available bare root, so needed to buy them then, during the dormant season) but the site where they were to be planted wasn’t expected to be available until July – in fact mid August by the time it actually happened.
My plan was to plant them in some large pots, and then transplant them when their final position was ready, but I was worried that if they hadn’t formed much root then when I came to planting them out most of it would fall off the roots and set them back.
I also wondering about rootballing them, with hessian, in the pots and then when I plant them there would be little disturbance – although I expected they would still get jiggered about a bit.
I asked my gardening mates and they told me that I was nuts – so no change there! Their suggestion was to plant them and then transplant in the Autumn.
Another suggestion was to use Air Pots. Since then I have bought (in the clearance sale …) some huge Air Pots, and with hindsight I think they would have been better – because the large air pots are in two parts, a circular disc for the base and a rectangular piece that you curve round to make the cylindrical sides of the pot. Thus when planting you can unclip, and peal back, the sides and then just slide, or lift, the plant off the base disc.
I also considered that I could plunge-pot them in final position (in July) and then physically plant them when dormant next Autumn.
I decided to go with the 54cm / 21″ pots I had to hand, but I only half filled them to about 35cm / 13″ in the hope that the roots would reasonably fill the compost. I used a 50:50 of compost from my compost heap and well rotted manure, and gave them a decent dose of Rootgrow Mycorrhizal fungi to stimulate root growth, hoping that that would get more root growth than a regular potting compost / John Innes type soil-based compost.
Here are the plants in their pots, roped together in a row:
So last weekend I was ready for planting … it turned out better than I expected, and being a month later than planned probably helped them make more root growth. The plants have not got much leaf (but they are blinking big trees – 420cm soil-level-to-tiptop, and came with not much root, so they had to make root before they could make top, and hopefully “making top” will start next year).
The important point, for any other nutter planning to do this!, is to get enough root to hold the rootball together when getting the plant out of the pot. Getting the plants out of the pots, without shaking up the rootball, was not entirely straight forward (I wonder if putting two ropes, tied at the base to form a Cross, and placed in the bottom of the pot, would have helped pull out the rootball). I had planted them rootballed with Hessian, but that had completely rotted away since February.
We laid the trees on their side, I held the bottom of the stem of the tree (pot/soil much heavier than the plant, so not much counterbalance) and got someone to wiggle and knock the pots off. I did this insitu so that then just standing the trees upright had them in their final place, rather than having to then manhandle them into the trench, for example.
This is what the rootball looked like:
Please note that the nearest one was a tree from the original pleach hedge which I dug out and potted last July, so its rootball was much better formed.
So here’s the result – Before & After, Last year and This year:
The tree nearest to the camera was the one removed from the gap in the original pleach hedge, where we have made a “track” to the barn
Full details of the Pleach Lime Hedge are in this article