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How to Rough Out & Plant Your Root Bulb

Learn how to plant bushes and shrubs by roughing out the roots and planting them in the first video of this two-part Howcast series.


If you're wanting to know how to plant a shrub, I'm going to give you just a quick demo here. The important thing when you're planting any plant is to really be sure that you don't plant it too deeply. If you plant the plant too deeply water collects in the hole and generally you end up with a sort of a bathtub effect that will collect water around the roots and promote root rot which very few plants like. Only swamp plants can take that kind of moisture.

So basically is you have your shrub here, you really just want to, right, this is a very small one, and remove the pot, remove the shrub from the pot. Basically if it's in there tight you can give it a few raps around here and a rap on the bottom just like delivering a baby and pull it out. And then what you want to do is sort of inspect your root ball here that's coming from the pot. This one doesn't have too many roots around the edge. Sometimes these can be quite root bound and you'll have roots circling all around the edge. If that's the case you'll want to come in there with a sharp object like a saw or your pruner and slice along those roots to sort of get the roots from stopping in their circular motion and moving out in the soil.

So one of the things I like to do whenever I'm planting a plant, a shrub, or otherwise is sort of rough up the root ball a little bit so that you get the roots out of their shape that they're accustomed to being in so they can move out into your native soil. What you always want to do is really get a good contact between the soil that's in the pot and the soil that's in your landscape because unless those two are joined well, the roots can't move through that fracture line and out into the larger space which is what you want if you want your plants to survive. So I'm just going to rough this up a little bit here. You don't have to be too kind with it.

One of the things you're really concerned about when you're planting something is that the roots don't dry out. As long as they don't dry out you can be kinda rough with it. So then you just set in the hole, making sure that where the plant meets the soil is up high. This is a little low, so we're just going to put a little more soil in here, and that's about there. And then once you've got the plant in there on a pedestal, one of my tricks that I really like to do is use water to free some soil from the root ball so that those roots will have a mixture of ambient soil and root ball soil so they'll get a good start. Don't be afraid, you can't use too much water in this process. The more water you have the better the plant will heal into the surrounding situation. In fact I always encourage people to remember like they were a child and make a mud patty. You want to get as much water as you can into this hole so that the plant has a running start and the roots won't dry out.

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