Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Root pruning

I love the smell of roots in the morning...

Give a girl a sharp saw and then stand back.

It was time. Again. To prune the fig tree. A year after its last operation its roots had packed the small pot. Until we move to a larger space this is where the fig must stay.

Special equipment required: a short, sharp saw. This one folds, and is  made by ARS, Japan. I love it. My other favourite is a Felco.

If you like dense chocolate cake you should enjoy root pruning. After sawing all the way around the root ball, to the depth of the pot, I wiggled the tree out carefully, having shaved off about three quarters of an inch.

I am no master bonsaier - rather, heart-in-mouth instinct. 

Cut no arteries, work on the veins and capillaries, trusting that new feeder roots will grow into the new soil.

New potting soil, a little food, water, and a prayer: Please be well, fig. I love you.

Since I had the saw out and had already messed up the stone table, it seemed a good idea to tackle some strawberries, too. They reproduce like rabbits.

The chives in their coal scuttle. Why not? Looking at root bound plants always makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable, and when they have all been repotted, I'll breathe more easily. It's like tucking them up into nice, fresh beds with clean sheets. 

It's spring. Let the growing begin.


  1. Happy Fig.

    I hear you about looking at root bound plants. Remember our limes in the milk container 'pots'? They have grown thick roots through the bottom, and I doubt they will survive long term in the Noordhoek wind and sand. I feel like I should be up for cruelty to plants, keeping them trapped in those small containers like that. Am currently trying to redistribute them to a loving home in the moist and fertile mountains behind George.

  2. do you trim the edges off all these ? it never occurred to me to root prune by chives. they grow no matter what i do (or dont' do)

  3. Rosie - I wish I had one of your little limes here. It might even survive our silly warm temperatures...

    Donna, I do. I find my chives grow more stunted if too squashed. And strawberries a trim and then separate into however many crowns appear in the pot.

  4. "It's like tucking them up into nice, fresh beds with clean sheets."

    At first I thought this said something else than 'tucking', I was a little shocked.

    Thank you for a nice post.

  5. Mind outta the gutta, Halli, mind outta the gutta :-)

  6. I'm going to try it with a dwarf tree in a planter. Seems like he needs a little care this year- and centering in his (why is it a "he"?) pot. Good tutorial.

  7. My plants are all very jealous and asking why I don't care the way you do.


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