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It’s All About Those Roots

Even though we see the tree canopy, the best sign of health is the tree roots! At Simmons Oak Farms, all our shade trees are field-grown in RootMaker bags. These bags have a solid bottom with knit mesh sides. As you can see in the picture below, this system helps the tree develop lots and LOTS of fibrous roots and NO circling roots.

Oak Rootball

Check The Roots

When you purchase a tree, you should always check the tree roots. If it has been container grown, ask the sales associate to lift the tree from its pot. Sometime you will see “circling roots”. These are easy to identify; they are simply long roots that circle round and round the inside of the container. They are a sign that this tree has been in that container for too long. Left like this, these roots will eventually choke the tree. If you MUST plant a tree with circling roots, you can do one of two things.

  1. Pull the roots apart and spread them in the planting hole, or
  2. Prune the roots.

We have kept harvested trees on the yard for months in these soft containers and they do great.  At planting, cut the bag, and rip it from the rootball.  The small roots that have grown through the holes in the bag will be torn (or pruned).  This root pruning tells the tree to grow more roots.

How long do they grow in the bags?

Root control bags have standards listed in the American Standards for Nursery Stock. We harvest our 18″ RootMaker trees at 2″-3″ caliper and our 24″ RootMaker trees at 3″ – 4″ caliper. Basically, our trees grow in the field for 4 or 5 years.

The trees are then cured for a minimum of 21 days. That is when they are ready for planting! But if you need to hold on to them for a bit longer, fear not. We have kept harvested trees on our yard for months in these soft containers and they do great!

That Next?

A newly planted tree will spend it’s first year or more getting established. In other words, it spends its time and energy growing roots. What’s going on below the ground will determine what goes on above the ground.

Here’s to cool spots below shady trees!

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Mary Beth

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