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  • Help, please. I have stalled roots in baby trees.

    Today I was up potting plants that have been growing in 1 gallon pots for about 2-3 months. Their growth was stalled and I thought that maybe they needed moved into 3 gallon pots. When I removed them from the gallon pots I found very little root growth compared to the leaves. The pots are in full sun from 9 until 8 and covered by a double layer of burlap when it's sunny and temperature is 85 degrees They sit on a table on the deck to protect them from the chipmunks.Is it possible that because they were in small gallon pots that the roots stopped growing due to the high temperatures? I'm in zone 6a and would like to have better root development before they go dormant. No pictures of roots, I put the trees in the 3 gallon pots then came in to check if there were posts in the forum. Thank you for any help.

  • #2
    If you want a lot of root growth the tree has to be growing. Is somewhat of a chicken and egg thing. Which comes first. I'd say roots but probably it's the leaves. The leaves feed the roots carbs so they can grow and the roots feed the leaves water and nutrients so that they can expand. Either way you've got to supply water and fertilizer, mainly nitrogen. If the top is growing rapidly then the roots will be as well.
    Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7
    http://growingfruit.org/

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    • #3
      It’s hard to answer because there can be many factors involved. These things can affect progress:
      1. Recent up-potting or something else that disturbed the plant. Can cause temporary stalling and needs a bit to get going again.
      2. Lack of fertilization or nutrients.
      3. Too much heat.
      4. Too much cold.
      5. Too much or too little water.
      6. The variety itself may be slower growing.
      7. The potting mix may have issues.
      8. A pest eating at the roots.

      If your highs are 85*, that’s a perfect temp and not too hot. I wouldn’t say that the 1 gallons were causing them to not grow. It’s hard to say without having a pic of the roots and plants to know if there was an unusual case of inadequate growth. It’s also hard to say if they needed up-potting without a pic of the roots. Were they close to being root bound? Did you see roots at the edges or emerging from holes at the bottom of the pot?

      But whatever the case, they are up potted now. 3 gallons is a decent size for a young plant. So, best course is to be patient. Follow a fertilization schedule to help get the growth you are looking for. Seaweed emulsion may help with root development, and there are some others that say they help with root formation, so maybe consider adding something like that to your schedule.
      ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

      W/L: La Joya, Ondata, Belvedere, Bebera Branca, Fico Giallo, Vernino, Asunta 5 Paco (DF)

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      • RosyPosy
        RosyPosy commented
        Editing a comment
        fruitnut posted while I was typing so I didn’t see his post prior to responding, but he’s the one to listen to as his green thumb is amazing!

      • fruitnut
        fruitnut commented
        Editing a comment
        I like your list. A lot of things can slow or stop growth.

    • #4
      If you could post a pic that might be helpful.

      If you have many more leaves than the small roots can handle you may have an issue.....depending on the number you could take off a leaf or two.
      Also the more leaves it has the more water it will go through.

      You just need a good balance, and since a cutting can leaf out before it even has roots, taking one off may make a difference.

      Good luck what ever you do.

      Kevin, N. Ga 7b Cheers!

      Wishing all of you a bountiful harvest!

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      • #5
        RosyPosy fruitnut @Ktrain
        Thanks for your suggestions. From reading them I can see that there are several things that I've done wrong. First up pot from 4x9, jumped the gun and didn't look for roots coming through the drain holes. Also, no dolomite lime or epsom salts. I've been fertilizing them with MG multipurpose about every 7 to 10 days and watering them well every morning if it hasn't rained the night before. I will try taking off one or two leaves, adding the dolomite lime and epsom salts (do I need to add some calcium, I read that some people are adding eggshells?). Should I wait a while before adding seaweed emulsion?
        Lots of questions. Being able to get opinions from experienced growers is a huge help. This forum is great!

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        • Ktrain
          Ktrain commented
          Editing a comment
          I only recommend removing a leaf or two if the number of leaves are high (4-5) for a cutting and the roots are very few.
          The leaves do supply the roots but if there are to few roots and they have to supply an abundance of leaves, the plant will stress.
          Hence me asking for a picture of the plant.

          If it only has 1 or 2...3 leaves I would not remove any.

        • fruitnut
          fruitnut commented
          Editing a comment
          This isn't a newly rooted cutting. Removing leaves is usually only a good idea if the roots have been disturbed/pruned. Then it's good to reduce the top size in proportion to the reduction in roots. A plant will drop the leaves on it's own accord if the roots can't keep up with water demand. Or it will quit growing more leaves. My cuttings that get too dry quit growing new leaves. Too dry is the same as not having enough roots.

        • Ktrain
          Ktrain commented
          Editing a comment
          Yea, I am going by what was said in the OP, "When I removed them from the gallon pots I found very little root growth compared to the leaves".
          It has been uprooted and can cause stress on the what little roots it has.

          I agree about the root pruning then the reduction in leaves to compensate.

      • #6
        This is what I use to feed cuttings after I know they have rooted.
        I pick it up at homedepot.

        https://nelsongardenproducts.com/product/grow-best/

        It seems to work well and won't burn.
        Fish or seaweed same thing.

        As for egg shells, I wouldn't bother using them on small plants, they take a very long time to break down, you're better off using another form of calcium. (Lime or Gypsum)
        You don't really need to add anything like this though unless you are seeing an issue in growth or discoloration in leaves.

        I have learned quite a few tip and tricks here....so poke around and ask more questions and you will find answers.

        Happy growing!
        Kevin, N. Ga 7b Cheers!

        Wishing all of you a bountiful harvest!

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        • #7
          Lots of good information given above, you may want to check the soil mix for drainage problems as you mentioned you water everyday. Water is a fine balance between dry and wet as RosyPosy mentioned.

          High nitrogen based fertilizer will push growth and leaves, try to use less N this time of the year.

          Good luck solving your concerns
          Millersville Maryland
          zone 7b

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          • #8
            Many suggest here fertilizing, but actually root growth could be reduced because of high nutrient level in the soil.
            I never fertilize my just rooted cuttings. Plants don't need NPK in so large quantities, that can't live without amendments few years. Any proper potting mix has enough NPK at least for two years. Cuttings develop good root system even in a poor sand.
            Estonia, Zone 5 Wish List 2023 Improved Celeste-Florea-Red Lebanese Bekaa Valley-Teramo-Long Yellow-Iranian Candy-De Tres Esplets-Malta Black-Salem Dark-Olympian-Smith-Green Michurinska + Any tasty super early fig

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            • fruitnut
              fruitnut commented
              Editing a comment
              Yours is a recipe for small plants with small roots. I've received several of those. A 6 month old cutting with 3-4 leaves and poor roots. Whereas mine with regular fertilizer are 10-20x the size.

            • Sulev
              Sulev commented
              Editing a comment
              This is a general rule - root development could be reduced in a nutrient rich soil, because of the plant finds enough nutrients without more intensive root growth. Many plants have plastic root system, that depends on conditions - could be shallow or deep according to the situation,

            • fruitnut
              fruitnut commented
              Editing a comment
              Root size is about supplying enough water not nutrients. Just a few roots can absorb enough nutrients in a nutrient rich soil. But to find enough water takes a big root system.

          • #9
            I know many are following the Millennial Gardener’s fertilizing schedule, but this is the fertilizing information I’ve been roughly following for my trees, Richard in this forum provided it:
            https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...G4/mobilebasic

            I use a combo seaweed/ fish emulsion and langbeinite for fertilizing my trees because I stick mostly to organic gardening methods. My water is high in calcium lime, but I did add some gypsum to my potting mix when I up potted because I figured it couldn’t hurt. I’m not sure I’ll worry about it in the future though unless an issue presents itself.

            Overdoing fertilizer can be harmful to plants, so don’t be too eager to give a lot because you’re wanting growth. I fertilize every other week, though some may do it more often. Plants in the first year sometimes seem to do their own thing as they’re getting established. Some grow a lot the first year, others take their time, but will take off in the 2nd year, and yet others are just plain slow. Patience is really needed with this, otherwise it’s like watching a pot boil.

            If you’re wanting to add seaweed emulsion to your existing fertilizing schedule, I would alternate it with what you’re already doing.

            Watch how much you are watering. I saw that you said you’re doing it everyday, but that may be too much if the root structure isn’t there. Check your pots to see how damp the mix feels before watering, if you’re not already. If it’s still moist from the last watering like an inch down or so, it doesn’t need more. Letting the potting mix dry somewhat between waterings may also help to promote root growth, as the plant will seek water. I don’t mean dry out completely to where the plant is negatively affected, just that it should reach a point of actually needing more moisture before more is added.

            But ultimately, I think the main issue that you’re experiencing is simply patience. Things needn’t be complicated or so exact and precise for perfect growth to happen. Everything happens in its due time as long as the basics are there. First year trees are wonky, they’re like babies figuring out their environment, each progressive year will bring improvement and all of that is just time. So no worries, they’ll grow!
            ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

            W/L: La Joya, Ondata, Belvedere, Bebera Branca, Fico Giallo, Vernino, Asunta 5 Paco (DF)

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            • #10
              RosyPosy
              I've been thinking today that I may have been over doing it with the water. I think that ever since I crispy fried the leaves on my new plant earlier this year my fear has been seeing more toasted babies.
              Everyone has been great in thinking of what may have been happening to the roots. I've really learned a lot from everyone's suggestions. Thanks a bunch!

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