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Hilltop's Gardening Wisdom & Tips

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Getting to the Root of the Matter

In one Sunday's News Leader "Ask a Master Gardener" column the Master Gardener wrote about how to select a good plant from a greenhouse/nursery. While he made some very good points, he made one glaring error! He mentioned checking roots of plants before purchase, saying, "Hold the pot and give the plant a tug." That is not how to take a plant out of a pot! Even the best rooted plants can be damaged by such an action. (He also mentioned that "most garden centers won't mind" if you do this. We will mind.)

So, how do you take a plant out of a pot?

  • Make sure the soil is moist; plants in dry soil tend to have roots stuck to the pot.

  • Gently squeeze the (plastic) pot from a few sides.

  • Put the plant between your index and middle fingers, with your fingers resting on the soil surface.

  • Carefully tip the pot over and tap the edge of the pot against a flat surface.

  • Carefully lift the pot off. If the pot doesn't come off easily, repeat the process.

Now that you know how to take a plant out of a pot, please keep a few things in mind:

  • It is the polite thing to do to ask the greenhouse/nursery owner permission to do such a thing.

  • When you de-pot a plant, you are disturbing it to some extent. We have found that a plant checked for good roots (we do it all the time) and returned to its pot tends to dry out faster than its undisturbed neighbors.

  • We would love to show you our roots because we want to sell you a well rooted plant; but please ask permission or let us do it for you.

Gardening Wisdom #11, 2/8/2014 © Hilltop Farm

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