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Re: Observation

I would tend to agree that the root growth is largely a factor of what they are growing in.  We try to keep an eye on what our competitors do and several local growers use growing mixes that are very different from each other.  Among these guys, if you show me a bare root plant, I  can often tell you who grew it by looking at the root systems.  Mobjack's plants have an incredible root system, long, thick roots that fill the pot, even in smaller plants.  The mix they use is the coarsest I have ever seen, chunky bark and small gravel.  You have to water it about every 10 minutes.

Growers that use more peat than we do often have thiner, fiberous roots and a much more compact root system.  Ours are somewhere in between.  I think it's obvious that the plants grow whatever roots they need to obtain water, just as they do in the ground.  Why bother growing long roots if the soil is always wet?

The other thing I notice is that I don't think having a huge root system means that you necessarily have a bigger or better plant.  Huge root systems are not the objective unless they are needed.


Bill Meyer wrote:

HI Everybody,          I'm not sure why hostas produce such different root systems between pots and ground, but they clearly do. Take a large potted plant with a huge root system and plant it in the ground and the following year the plant may be bigger, but the root system is clearly much smaller. I have a retail nursery near me who does pretty much the opposite of what most commercial growers do as far as their mix goes. They use a very rich, fine mixture with a lot of mushroom soil (old manure) in it. They really don't lose too many through the winter, as might be expected, and they've been doing this for years. Growth is really very good and rot only a problem with certain varieties, particularly 'Aristocrat' and 'Great Expectations". The actual growth rate is not much slower than the airy, chunky mixes favored by Southern growers. These lightweight mixes tend to show the most root growth, while the rich heavy mix favored by these people shows root growth that is only about half that.          There does seem to be a tie-in between root growth and the density and richness of the soil. Producing the highest root-growth possible may not make for the best plant, if the plant is intended to be placed in the ground that season, though. Plants grown in very light mixes often don't adapt well to the transition.           It may not be only the physical structure that causes the difference in the root systems. One possibility is that it may be tied to trace elements not found in potting mixes or the most commonly used fertilizers. Has anyone tried using trace element supplements on their potted plants? If so, has it made a difference?                                                                                              ...........Bill Meyer 

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