Monday, April 6, 2009

Why the Phrase "Excavate the Root Collar" is Important if You're Planting

Sounds technical but it really isn't. The "root collar" is the part of a wood tree or shrub where the trunk meets the beginning of the roots. It's an important area because if it's planted too deep or a lot of mulch or debris rests against it, the plant can get stem rot and actually die from it. Death by mulch. That can kill a tree?? Sounds implausible but it's true!

So, if you don't plant the plant too deep, no problem, right? NOT necessarily. If the plant was grown in a container, it may have had soil or mulch added over the roots. The roots may have responded by growing up PAST the root collar into this area. Then, when you plant and make the soil from the pot even with the surrounding soil, something that you are always told to do, guess what? You planted it too deep! Unless, that is the root collar was already exposed when you planted it.

What to do? Check before you plant. You may have to actually excavate the area around the root collar. This may involve merely brushing away excess soil and/or mulch. Or, this may mean you actually cut away portions of the rootball. This actually seems more brutal than it is and the plant will be fine. The plant will be very happy you did that, in fact. A pruning saw works well for this or a very sharp knife.

So, now you know. Go forth and plant thy trees and shrubs...and don't forget the pine bark soil conditioner in your clay soils!

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