Rootbound pots

Credit: Carolyn Herriot

Imagined how thrilled I was to find a form of Rubus spectabilis, our native salmonberry, with fully double, cerise-red flowers that look like centifiolia roses!

These flowers grow on a shrub as high as 12 feet tall in early spring. Then sweet red berries in summer, and all this on a fast-growing drought tolerant native plant.

Then imagine my distress when I found out it was thoroughly root bound when I went to plant it. This happens all too frequently when you buy plants that have been left in small pots far too long.

Tightly coiled roots cannot establish in new ground, so it’s best to free up the roots before you plant. I try teasing the roots apart first, but if this is not possible, I’ll need a knife or pruning saw to score into the root ball. This damages roots and sets the plant back initially, but they always recover, as long as you don’t score the root ball too deeply in the process of unentanglement.