Horribly pot-bound rose transplant

andersons21July 19, 2011

Does anyone have experience root pruning rose bushes? I have just managed to get this bush out of its growers pot and shoot a little of the soil out with a jet of water. It is horribly pot bound. (I bought it last year and never got around to repotting.) I can't even loose the roots with my hands. How much should I chop away? The bush has been very vigorous.

I am repotting it into the gritty mix in a 20 inch italian terra-cotta pot.

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Not sure I would do anything that adventurous in the middle of summer. If it were me, I would just put it in a bigger pot with some potting soil and wait until fall to deal with the root ball. I have had good success just soaking tight rose root balls in water overnight to aid in the process. Linda

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 6:49PM
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Shoot, well....I'm way too lazy to tackle this again, so I hacked away. I do not know how aggressive I should have been with the thick, woody roots. Or the fine roots for that matter. Just loosening some of the thick mats of them ended up losing the whole mat. Al had said something about loosening roots with chopsticks....my chopstick immediately broke. I ended up poking into the mass with the point of my small clipper, then shooting jets of water, then pulling with my fingers. Man what a chore.

I still would like to hear any details about how people root prune roses grown in containers.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 10:21PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I think you will be fine with what you did. I have often whacked off an inch or two of that mat of roots at the bottom of the pot before planting and they take off with new vigor. Al

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:57AM
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I too have whacked off a few inches or two on all sides and the bottom and repotted in the summer and mine have been fine. In fact, hey seem to grow healthier shortly after.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:38AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There are some root-pruning basics in the thread about growing trees in containers that would be applicable to roses.

The dog days of summer are good for repotting most houseplants/cacti/succulents, tropical trees, and most pines, but that's about it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Click me and I'll take you right to what he was talking about.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:20PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

andersons, I have a lot of roses, some in pots. If I plant a rose, or transplant it, or repot, I do root prune. I've bought plants as you describe, with entangled root balls that are basically the entire pot. Sometimes I soak them for a day or too, that may help to loosen some of the mess. You can remove most of the thicker roots, they are mostly for anchoring and not feeding. Try to keep most of the finer roots if you can. If you do this, the plant will hopefully spread it's roots in the new pot. Then you can repot again next year and maybe remove more of the older tangled roots.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 12:05PM
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Thank you all. This is all very useful.

By today, it is not looking too good. Leaves on one cane have turned crispy. Other leaves are yellowing.

I'm a little sad to see my Mr Lincoln suffering, but I'm not panicking yet...I've grown roses in pots for years and have always been amazed at how fast they can shoot out stems and leaves. My Chrysler Imperial, which I planted in a gritty mix last spring, shot up 6 inches or so last week when we finally got some warmer weather (which was bad for my repots, though!).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:51PM
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