Root pruning - try to keep the larger roots

jimithing78February 28, 2014

I just repotted my meyer lemon tree and took the opportunity to do some root trimming while I had it out. It came out of gritty mix and went back into a new batch of gritty mix. I got the old mix out pretty easily and looked at the root structure. Of course there were roots of varying size - my thought was to trim off most of the smaller diameter roots and keep the larger ones.

Is that a correct assumption? All of the other threads I've been reading tonight suggest cutting off the bottom 1/4 or 1/3 of the root ball. But since the gritty mix came out so easy I didn't really have a ball to work with.

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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

No, not correct. On an established plant, the big roots serve mainly for stability and as connection points for the smaller, hairlike and near microscopic roots that do all the heavy lifting for the plant in terms of nutrient/gas/liquid absorption. That said, you may still want some thicker ones for pure stability in the pot for windy days if outside.

If in doubt, just cut off the bottom 1/3, trim the sides in so they're well away from the inner pot wall, fan the remaining roots out radially like spokes on a wheel if staring straight down at the plant, then set it on top of the "volcano" mound of new Gritty in the pot. Add the remaining gritty methodically so you fill in as many gaps or potential gaps as possible. Use a wood BBQ skewer or plastic fork to gently poke mix into and among the fanned out roots.

If you see a few large, old gnarled roots, it is actually a healthy practice to cut those out as long as removing those won't make your plant topple.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:29PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Agree - concentrate on removing problem roots first, then the older and largest roots that aren't radiation from the base of the stem at the roots to stem transition. The finest roots do all the work, except for anchoring the plant, so your objective is to remove heavy roots so the plant can use the freed-up space for more fine roots.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Hmm...ok, well then oops I guess. I didn't remove all the fine roots but I did remove quite a few. There really weren't any problematic looking big roots - this is only my third year with the tree. Not sure how old it was when I got it - couldn't have been that old. I guess my tree will just be well anchored. Hopefully the fine roots will regrow quickly. Any suggestions for a quicker recovery?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:24PM
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