Should I pot these up?

elkay_gwAugust 13, 2011

I bought this Aralia Olympia (Dizygotheca elegantissima) about 10 days ago, and while the plant seems in proportion to the pot (plant including pot is 12" tall - pot is 3.5" across) I slippped it out of the pot to take a look and I see lots of roots.

And that Mikado plant has roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. I can't get it out of the pot to look - I will have to cut the plastic pot with scissors. Because I just got these plants I would think I should wait until next spring to put in the next size larger pot, no?

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Elkay,

Nice looking Aralia,the color looks good & it seems healthy. I guess you could repot, tho' not to a much larger pot. Maybe just trim off the encircling roots, & wait 'til Spring (I just checked a reference books & it suggests these are slow growing). I'm really not sure, perhaps see what others suggest.

Sorry, I don't know what a Mikado plant is. Could you pls. show the plant itself? Also, I don't think it would be terrible to trim those roots off the bottom to remove it from the pot to look, I don't think one need cut the pot, just snip off those bits of roots.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:29AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would repot both plants asap. Roots that tight are assuredly having a significant impact on growth and vitality that can only be corrected by pruning the roots.

Roots grow where the cultural conditions are best, they don't 'look' for water, nutrients, air ...... You'll note that the bulk of the healthy roots are at the perimeter of the soil mass, and that's because as the soil starts to dry down it shrinks away from the pot sides and lets AIR into that area of the pot. That the roots are pretty much all there is a good indication they aren't getting enough air in the middle of the soil mass.

The rootballs of all the plants I grow always have roots evenly distributed throughout the entire soil mass. I attribute this to the fact that I only grow in soils that are well-aerated. It makes it MUCH easier to consistently produce healthy attractive plants with a lot fewer headaches.

I would use an old pair of scissors to cut off the bottom 1/3 of the root/soil mass, and then remove all the old soil & repot into a fast draining and durable soil. Use a wooden skewer or chopstick to work the soil into the roots, eliminating air pockets. The plant will easily tolerate this treatment as long as you keep the roots moist while working on them.

If you're game, I'll even mix a soil & send it to you so you can see how easy it can be.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:16PM
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Hi Al,
You mean send me some actual soil? Or tell me the ingredients - most of which I think I have with the exception of turface. Can you substitute something else for the turface?

I have a question.........if I am going to go to a slightly larger pot anyway and don't want to prune the top of the plant, is it absolutely necessary to trim off one third of the roots? Can I leave the existing roots as they are and just remove the old soil?

Pirate Girl - the Mikado plant is pictured in my post: "A new one on me", a few posts down.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 2:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Those large, fat encircling roots aren't doing anything for the plant - just taking up room that could be colonized by the real work horses - the fine roots that take up water and nutrients, but you can keep them if you've already grown attached to them (just teasing). ;-)

Yes - I'll send you some actual soil. All you need to do is bare-root & repot - hopefully along with a root pruning, but I'll leave that up to you. ;-) I do this a couple of hundred times each year, so it's business as usual for me - no big thing.

Let me say a little about rejuvenation pruning. Tissues RETAIN their status insofar as their growth stage. The tissue immediately above and immediately below the transition between the stem and roots will always be the most vigorous, simply because it retains its juvenile vigor. When you cut the roots back, you cut them back to more vigorous tissue - the same with top pruning .... and the plant grows with a vengeance. That's why they have a special name for the pruning-back process in which you cut stems back almost to the soil line - 'rejuvenation' pruning which is derived from 'juvenile'.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:06PM
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Thanks, Al.....I appreciate the offer, but I don't want to put you thru all the trouble. I have to gather up my courage and cut off those roots. So what IS the purpose of those fat roots - to anchor the plant, or what?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:26AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good advice.

Also, the first plant looks like an Aralia...but not the False Aralia, Dizygotheca elegantissima.
D. elegantissima has much finer leaves, unless I'm mistaken.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Josh, you're correct. Dizygotheca elegantissima. 'False Aralia' has long, thin leaves. Elkay's plant looks like Dizygotheca elegantissima 'Castor,' or 'Galaxy.'

On the other hand, it also resembles, Polyscias, 'Lace Aralia.' Are Dizy and Poly related?

Botanical and common names of this plant depend where it's purchased. I've seen the same plant sold under both names. Toni

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 1:00PM
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