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  • Self Pruning Containers

    I was wondering what the consensus is on self pruning planters. I was using the search tool and have not been able to find much on this topic. There is plenty of information on SIPs and the use of 5 gallon buckets etc.

    Here are a couple of links to the type of planters I am referring to.
    "The most advanced air root pruning system in the industry!" Produce much larger trees, shrubs, perennials, small fruits, etc. in the same time as conventional containers. Vertical corrugations in the container wall, guide the root tips to air-pruning slots resulting in a denser, more uniform root mass with no root circling. Liner roots develop more quickly, adding plant size more quickly for sale. Often the a cost-per-container is less than traditional methods. Sizes available up to # 65. Black in color.

    The Accelerator Air Root Pruning System by Nursery Supplies, Inc. promotes healthy root pruning & growth for trees, shrubs, & plants.


    Currently I do not use any of these types of planters. Most of my figs are in traditional plastic containers or buckets. I am looking at these for up-potting later this fall. I don't have any SIPS set up since my watering is done via an automated drip system. My understanding is that the SIPS are preferred from a watering perspective. Are there any other benefits that I am overlooking? Root pruning by hand seems like a royal pain so I am exploring other types of pots so I could avoid it. My father in law has several figs in the air pruning pot called "The Accelerator AP15". They are doing great and he has never pruned them. I think this type of pot would be ideal with my drip system. Seems like if there is a lazier way to do it thats the way I go =)
    Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a

  • #2
    There are a few members that use similar air pruning pots, but I've never tried them.
    I have made fabric pot liners from spun landscape fabric and used them successfully like the commercially available pot liners,
    Pot Pruner fabric sleeves line your plastic container to stop root circling, promote root pruning and give the fastest re-establishment time after removal.

    They work to reduce root circling but bare rooting and root pruning still has to be done on a schedule due to the increase of non feeder roots (fat roots) in the limited space which decreases growth and productivity over time.

    A major benefit of SIPs is the uninterrupted, increased growth and earlier fig production that the planters provide, they can also be used with automated irrigation systems and pot liners.

    Could you please quantify "Doing Great".
    How many figs are produced yearly in those AP-15, twelve gallon, 18 in diam. air rooting pots?
    How many years have they been growing in those pots without root pruning?
    and How are they pruned and what size canopy? Thanks.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


    • #3
      I guess I should have explained doing great =)

      We are both rather new to this hobby so doing great is relative to us being amateurs. My father in law has 3 plants in the AP-15s. One of them is a chicago hardy which is his oldest plant. I would say its a 5 year old plant that has been in the AP-15 for at least the last 3 years. He has never taken it out and pruned the roots. It seems to be fruiting well and has about 50 figs on it roughly. The tree is about 5 feet tall and the pruning is an attempt at a tree form with the main trunk having about a 2 inch caliper. The other two trees are of unkown variety that he found growing exposed in Middle River Maryland. They have been in the pots about 2 years and are younger trees, maybe 3 years old. They seem to have taken the bush form and have less fruit, roughly 30 on both.

      For us we consider that great but we also don't know any better. This spring we traveled down to VA to buy some other varieties and expanded our collection but those guys are still in regular 5 gallon planters.

      When you say uninterrupted growth is that cause the SIPS will always have a water reservoir and therefore the soil will stay moist?
      Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a


      • #4
        Thanks for the detailed reply...

        Yes, the soil stays moist and doesn't cause slowing or stoppage of growth due to wet dry cycles that are typical of intermittent or "scheduled" watering.

        I asked the questions because I've also only been growing fig trees for 5 years and have been able to get 60 or more figs from 5 gallon buckets in 2nd leaf and over 120 figs from similar sized (to AP-15) 10 - 15 gallon half barrels in 3rd leaf from Hardy Chicago and Mount Etna Type cultivars, I was look for reasonable comparisons, "apples to apples".

        Its been my experience that the early growth in 1 gallon containers benefits greatly from the well aerated mixes and containers, after which the containers (5 Gallon buckets) that maintain constant moist roots allows for faster vegetative growth which establishes the mains and scaffolds for the future fruiting branches after the 2 leaf / year.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


        • #5
          Wow... that is more production than I can imagine. I guess we are just doing okay then. I am still trying to better understand pruning techniques. I am thinking our poor production (relatively) has mainly to do with that. We havent really established good scaffold branches yet.

          I will try to hook up a SIP to my drip system. I got plenty of buckets to experiment with. Need a plant though so it might have to wait until next year to try out.

          Speaking of the watering.. One of my Middle River unknowns did lose some figs. They shriveled up and dropped off. It got a serious case of rust this spring so I figured it was due to that. So now I am thinking its just watering. I may switch my watering to twice a day. Right now I have them set up with either a .5 gal or 1 gal per hour dripper depending on planter size watered once a day.

          Thanks for the information.
          Jose in Glen Arm, Maryland.... Zone 7a


          • #6
            You're welcome.
            We're all doing OK...

            Instead of air pruning pots I've opted for early training and pruning for increased production in smaller containers (5 gallon buckets lined with spun landscape fabric) that can be easily pruned yearly, easily root pruned every 1 - 2 years and barerooted probably every 4 - 5 years. The possible yearly root pruning simply involves using a saw to reduce the root ball by ~ 1 inch on the sides and ~ 2 inches on the bottom then replanting back into the same container and takes less than 15 minutes for each tree. Attached is a link to a previous topic and a few photos...
            Please adv if it is better to pot a fig tree (abt 4 ft tall) in a 5 gal plastic bucket to begin with or in a ceramic pot (this ceramic pot is much wider but
            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b