The root of the issue

Supplement - Ask the Experts: Containers

Questions with Wayne Hinton: Learn how air-root pruning creates a healthy root system at propagation and ultimately leads to an exceptional plant.

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October 6, 2017
Kelli Rodda

A great finished plant must have a great start. Success in propagation gives trees and shrubs the foundation needed to become a high-quality specimen. And at the core of that success is a healthy, fibrous root system.

RootMaker® containers are designed to create fibrous, non-circling root systems horizontally and vertically at all phases of production to equip plants for transplanting success. RootMaker’s owner Wayne Hinton explains how Dr. Carl Whitcomb’s container designs and air-root pruning discoveries influence plant growth.

1 | Why all the fuss about roots?

Roots are the engine of the plant. With a horizontally branched fibrous root system, plant growth is optimized due to the increased root tip surface area that promotes greater absorption of water and nutrients.

2 | How does a grower create a fibrous root system?

Ultimately, it starts at propagation, and with the RootMaker® System’s air-root pruning techniques.

Dr. Whitcomb, who developed contemporary air-root pruning technology, found that much like a branch or twig that’s pruned, a root also branches about 4 inches back from where it is pruned. With air-root pruning, roots branch quickly, creating a network of horizontal roots.

When a root tip is exposed to air, it dehydrates, which seals off that root tip, and transfers that energy by creating more roots. The seal also stops pathogens from entering that root tip.

The patented design of RootMaker® containers is equipped with a series of ledges and holes which exposes the root tips to air. This creates as many roots near the root stem junction as possible, giving that plant more vigor and allowing it to grow faster. With the RootMaker® System, you get secondary and tertiary branching before you even shift up into another container.

3 | Do RootMaker® containers stop root circling and stimulate root branching?

The patented root pruning technology is built into the container; however best management practices are just as important as the container choice for production success. Plants left in the container too long fill up all the spaces and plant growth slows.

4 | Do plants grown in RootMaker® containers grow faster?

Plants grown in RootMaker® containers are constantly increasing root tip surface area. One root tip can absorb a certain amount of water. Therefore, if you multiply that by 10, 100, or more, then support for top growth increases.

I have growers in Zone 7 that tell me they get 1- to 1½-inch stem diameter growth in a year for some tree species. Any vascular plant will improve with a good start.

Roots are the engine of the plant. With a horizontally branched fibrous root system, Plant growth is optimized.

5 | Is that all there is to it?

It’s that simple. I met Dr. Whitcomb 20 years ago. He showed me a simple solution to the fundamental problem of poorly developed and circling roots with growing in containers, and it amazed me how simple it was.

For more: www.rootmaker.com