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Re: Hosta Growth

Unless the plant is very root bound, banging the root ball on something hard will generally loosen the soil so that the roots can be separated.  .>>>>>There is some anecdotal evidence that messing with hosta roots
Well now, come spring I can fill you in on an experience I had this past summer/fall.  A local nursery was selling potted plants at 60% off their price.  That maybe should have been my clue.  They had a very nice Gold Regal, large, and since I had wanted another one I purchased it.  Really cheap!  Not sure it was cheap after I took it out of the pot to put it into the ground.  Never saw so many roots so congested.  The most complicated network of interstate couldn't compete!  Dirt was nonexistant and I proceeded to try to untangle the mass, banging it on the back of the shovel.  I just finally gave up with little success and put it in the ground.  I really don't expect this plant to live but I can tell you I will look in the future at those bargins more closely.  I have done similar things to root bound plants but this was like nothing I have ever seen before. 
Beth Arnold
Peoria Illinois  Zone 5
-----Original Message-----
From: Chick <chick@bridgewoodgardens.com>
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com <hosta-open@mallorn.com>
Date: Thursday, February 04, 1999 9:04 PM
Subject: Re: Hosta Growth

All right! Finally a subject with a bunch of messages I disagree with.  Things were getting boring.

A couple of messages have recommended slicing the root ball, which is common practice when planting potted shrubs when their roots have circled the pot.  Since hostas do not have a fibrous root system, root pruning, which this essentially is, will not induce root growth as it does with shrubs and trees.  Since spiraling roots grow primarily at the outside of the root ball, slicing them, especially on all four sides, can sever the majority of the root mass.  Since hostas don't initiate root growth until late spring and summer, after leaf growth, I think the root loss will cause a lot of stress. I think it is far better, though harder, to try to unwind the roots.  Unless the plant is very root bound, banging the root ball on something hard will generally loosen the soil so that the roots can be separated.

There is some anecdotal evidence that messing with hosta roots stimulates the plant and causes increased growth.  I would like to see this addressed by our more scientifically inclined.

There were a couple of subtle slams at container grown plants, and while I agree that there are pros and cons to container grown and bare root plants, I can't let them slide by.  Having grown hostas in containers for 20 years, I have a hard time accepting that the roots on container grown plants "in the main, however, are incapable of functioning in most soils."  Come on Ran.  That's akin to me stating flatly that bare root plants arrive all shriveled and dried up and are so stressed that it takes them so long to recover that they seldom bloom the first year and everybody knows that if a hosta doesn't bloom it won't multiply. (Now there's a sentence that my high school English teacher would have loved).  And you know I'd never say anything to disparage bare root plants like that.  I and several other growers have been growing plants in pots for several years now and I can assure you that their roots work.

I can also assure our audience that not all growers over-fertilize container grown plants, and though I've never tried, I suspect that it is just as easy to over-fertilize in the ground.  I suspect that whether you buy bare root or container grown, what you get sometimes depends on who you buy from.

"You also need to be very careful about tissue cultured plugs that are
transfered to larger pots.  Most growers just take the plug and put it
into a pot.  If you buy those pots and leave them in the pot you may
discover the following year that the root system hasn't penetrated
into the additional planting mix."  Boy, am I starting to feel persecuted!  If nothing else, I would at least change "most growers" to some growers, and typically those growers selling to mass marketers, who wouldn't know a well grown plant if it was shoved up their nose.  Mass marketers insist on buying plants at prices than simply don't justify growing a quality plant.  If that's what you're buying, then you get what you pay for.  If you're getting plants like that from a reputable seller, then the reputation is undeserved and you are buying from the wrong person.

It's just my opinion.

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