Vermont Garden Journal: Getting to the Roots

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I like to get to the root of an
issue. In the garden that means the bare root. Bare rooted trees, shrubs, and
roses are plants dug in winter or early spring from a nursery with the soil
removed from their roots. While most are packed and shipped through the mail
this time of year while the plants are still dormant, roses are found in bare
root packaging in garden centers.

The plants young and small, so they
are light weight and easy to plant. And they’re a lot  cheaper than buying larger, potted, plants.

But you have to plant them
properly. As soon as they arrive, unwrap the bare rooted plant and soak the
roots in warm water for 3 to 6 hours. Mix some water absorbing polymers into
the bucket of water. These polymers expand into a jelly-like mass and cling to
the plant’s roots helping them stay moist when planting.

Dig a 3-foot diameter hole that’s
deep enough so the soil is just above the root crown (the area above the
roots). For roses plant so the graft union (the bulging area between the stem
and roots) is a few inches below the soil. Pack the native soil around them,
and water well to remove air pockets. Don’t amend the soil with compost unless
it’s really poor. However, consider adding mycorrhizae powder to the hole.
Mycorrhizae is a naturally-occurring symbiotic fungus that helps roots retain
water and take up nutrients better. Create a mote to hold water around the edge
of the hole and mulch with a 2- to 4 inch thick layer of bark mulch, keeping
the bark mulch away from the trunk.

Now for this week’s tip, prune back
any cracked and snow damaged limbs on your shrubs to the trunk or a main
branch. Consider even removing non-damaged limbs to balance the structure.  You may lose some flowers, but you’ll have a
healthier shrub. Next week on  the Vermont Garden Journal,
I’ll be talking about dandelions. For now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!


Arbor Day Foundation

All American Rose Selections



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