Potted Trees – Root Care

Q: You said on your radio show that gardeners should shake off the dirt from potted trees and shrubs before planting so the roots could be untangled and separated. A few weeks ago I planted three oak trees that were in five gallon containers. I did not shake off the dirt or separate the roots. Should I dig them up?

A: I know it will be a pain to do it but I think you’ll be better off to dig the trees, spread out the roots, and replant. In my experience, container-grown trees inevitably have circling roots which need straightening outward. Circling roots eventually will grow large enough to impinge on the trunk of a tree, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients. Your intent is to have healthy trees for many years and if there is any problem with your oak tree roots, you’ll live to regret not giving them the best start.

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