F13 Root pruning

Seedlings planted in large seed beds need special care to prevent the roots growing together and becoming mixed up. As the seedlings grow, the roots should be regularly pruned to encourage strong root growth. Cut the soil into squares to separate the roots.

Use a strong wire (such as an old guitar string) to prune the roots underneath the beds as well. This work is easier with two people. 

With trees growing in containers, simply move them each month and cut any roots growing outside the container. 

Discussion 

  • Discuss what effect root pruning may have on the young seedlings. Draw out the fact that root pruning helps the seedlings to develop a strong, compact root system when done regularly. It also reduces damage at the time of transplanting. 
  • When might root pruning damage the young seedlings? Draw out the fact that if root pruning is left too late, the young seedlings may develop very strong roots outside the containers. Pruning such strong roots may damage and even kill the seedling trees. 
  • If possible visit a tree nursery and observe the benefits and need for root pruning.