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Planting Secrets for a Healthy Garden 

By Pat Roome, Master Gardener and ENN Member

The stores are filled with plants right now and it’s very tempting to buy them. 

Whether they are annuals, perennials, houseplants, shrubs or trees, they share a common preparation technique. Here are the best ways of planting to have successfully established plants which will grow for you.  

Plants in containers are growing in quite different soil from the soil in their new home. Water will not move easily from one type of soil to another so roots must be in contact with the new soil to take up water. Although my way looks drastic, the plants will respond well and roots will soon grow again into their new home. 

First remove the container and all packaging including burlap. 

Rootbound plant out of container Loosened root ball

Remove the mass of roots at the bottom of the container and pull the roots on the sides free using your fingers or a hand fork. Plant at same depth that the plant was in the pot.  If necessary make 4 slashes  ½ “ deep down the side root ball with a knife. 

Pull roots free with a hand fork. Roots at base are removed

Water very well after planting but don’t fertilize for a couple of weeks to allow the roots to re- establish before being challenged to grow new top growth. 

This procedure applies equally to untangling root balls for annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.

Your plants will establish quickly and reward you for your effort.

Editor's note: Each year, Pat sells a variety of tomato plants for $5.00 per gallon-sized plant.  For information, visit her web site,
*Note to Full Service Members: Pat has offered to help members find ways to make their gardens easier to maintain.  Full service members are eligible for this service which will be available for a limited time only.  Sign in, click on the Members tab, and choose "New Service Request."




Tomatoes from Pat

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