About thirty years ago, just when I was getting into gardening, nurseries begin growing plants in pots. I know, you thought plants were always grown in pots, but that’s a fairly new horticultural technique. Before that most perennials, when you could find them, were grown in the field and dug and sold bare root. Container grown plants have the advantage, of carrying all their roots with them when they go from the nursery to your yard. With field dug plants you often only ended up with 25 percent, or less, of the plant’s original root system. Still, planting container grown plants, including perennials, can be tricky at times.
Directing the roots outward
One of the problems with container grown plants is that the root system has often grown into its own pot-like configuration. The roots grow around and a round inside the pot and when you
pull the pot off the roots are in a tight, cylindrical mass. This is often a hindrance to the roots growing outward into the surrounding soil. When roots linger in a tight mass after planting, they are subject to drying out rapidly and this will damage the plant.
When planting a container grown plant with a tight, bound root mass, gently dislodge the outer layer of roots with your fingers or a garden weeder. Pulling some of the roots out of their bound condition will encourage growth rapidly into the surrounding soil and help the plant establish rapidly. During the time you’re waiting for the roots to grow outward, and this may take three to five weeks, give the plant a light watering every few days right at the base of the stem. You must try and keep the original root system moist until outward growing roots can tap the moisture in the surrounding soil.