Garden & Greenhouse

Articles

G&G Cover Story – RootMaker® – The Three Methods of Root Pruning

Posted May 15th, 2019 by Garden & Greenhouse in

A plant’s root system provides vital access to water and nutrients. Experienced growers understand that making root production a top priority will lead to healthier and more productive crops. Advancements in the products and techniques used to promote healthy roots within a container, have revolutionized the way container gardening is done by both hobbyists and commercial nurseries. Even with all of the advancements, some growers still use generic plastic potting containers; inadvertently promoting an unhealthy root structure. This type of potting container only promotes a circling of roots, instead of a healthy, fibrous, laterally-branching root structure.

When experimenting with container gardening in the 1960s, Dr. Carl Whitcomb grew frustrated with the inadequate root structures created by the circling of roots within the potting container. Determined to solve this problem with a complete system approach, Dr. Whitcomb tested and rejected many designs until the root-pruning containers he was working on evolved into the current line of patented RootMaker® products. RootMaker products offer the only complete root-pruning container system for all stages of growth; from propagation to harvest. RootMaker products offer cultivators a few different approaches to root pruning and stimulation. In fact, there are three methods of root pruning utilized by RootMaker® products to aid a horticulturist in creating the most vibrant root structures possible. The root pruning methods are air-root-pruning, root-tip trapping, and constriction pruning.

Air-Root-Pruning

Air-root-pruning works by dehydrating the root tips which causes an explosion of lateral-branching roots. RootMaker products that utilize the air-root-pruning method are designed to eliminate the mass of circular roots commonly created by other planting containers. Air-root-pruning is the most effective way to stimulate and maintain a healthy, fibrous root structure. From propagation to harvest, there is a RootMaker air-root-pruning product for each stage of growth. For seedlings and clones, there is the propagation tray. The unique design of the propagation cells not only prunes roots, but also distributes oxygen throughout the growing media. The larger sized injection molded containers can be used after propagation to continue the air-pruning process throughout a plant’s growing cycle.

The RootMaker injection molded container utilizes a proprietary design to coax the roots to the holes in the sidewalls of the container. This effectively continues the air-pruning process. These injection molded containers come in a range of sizes, including one, two, three, and five gallons. There is even a new 15 gallon blow molded container for larger plants.

The RootBuilder containers expose even more of the root mass to air, maximizing the air-pruning capability. These versatile containers come in many sizes, including propagation, quart, and one, two, three, or five gallons. The RootBuilder material is also available in what is referred to as an “expandable container”. A grower can purchase a 17 inch tall, 96 foot long roll of RootBuilder material. The grower can then cut the material to create a custom-sized container for virtually any application.

Root-Tip Trapping

The RootTrapper® container is a black, spun-bonded fabric, laminated with a white outer coating. The white outer coating is designed to reflect the sun’s radiant energy away from the container to avoid overheating the root zone. This protects the tender roots from damage and also helps conserve water that would otherwise be lost to evaporation. Like the plastic containers from RootMaker, these fabric containers are designed to stimulate root branching and eliminate circling roots. The fabric container products from RootMaker work by trapping the root tips, which forces the plant to produce more lateral roots. This equates to a nice, healthy root mass without circling. The porous fabric design means each square inch can prune up to 100 roots. All RootTrapper containers are designed to trap root tips and stimulate more root growth.

The RootTrapper II allows for more drainage and aeration where the soil column needs it most, while protecting the entire sidewall from excessive evaporation and water loss. RootTrappers are available in a wide variety of sizes, from one gallon up to 500 gallons.

The RootTrapper®-In-Pot is a perfect insert for any socket pot. RootMaker manufactures RootTrappers that can be custom fit to any size socket pot for pot-in-pot production. The pot-in-pot method provides two distinct benefits. First, plants do not blow over and are stabilized by the outer pot. Second, roots are kept cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter due to the additional insulation. The RootTrapper inserts create a fibrous root system and root escape is almost non-existent.

Finally, the RootTrapper Grounder® is designed with RootTrapper sidewall and a knit fabric bottom. The RootTrapper Grounder not only prunes by trapping root tips, but it also has the added benefit of pruning the bottom roots by constriction, while allowing the roots to grow into the soil through the knit fabric bottom. The RootTrapper Grounder is available in sizes ranging from three gallons to 60 gallons.

Constriction Pruning

Constriction pruning is a technique where the roots are allowed to grow through a fabric container wall into the surrounding soil. The majority of the roots are constricted to an area which leads to root branching and accumulation of energy.

The knit fabric in-ground containers by RootMaker allow small roots to extend through the fabric, but do not let them expand. Knit fabric in-ground containers allow in-the-field growing, but with the mobility and ease of harvest that containers offer. The fabric prunes roots by constriction and, thus, stimulates secondary root-branching.  Water management is easier in the field and the root system is protected from temperature extremes. This technique can be valuable for nurseries as plants grown with this method have less production costs and maintenance. Knit fabric in-ground containers are available in sizes ranging from 5” in diameter up to 48”.

RootMaker – The Complete Root Solution

RootMaker is the only product line to offer root-pruning containers for all stages of growth and for all styles of growing. From hobby gardeners to commercial nursery applications, all growers can benefit from using RootMaker products. The fibrous, non-circling root systems created in RootMaker containers have more active root tips than root systems grown in any other type of container system. The increased root tip surface area equates to faster root establishment and increased efficiency in nutrient and water absorption. Due to this increase in efficiency, plants grown in RootMaker containers will experience little or no transplant shock, overall accelerated growth, and increased vigor. A healthy root structure is the foundation for larger yields. Not only do plants grown in RootMaker containers produce larger yields than those grown in traditional containers, they grow more rapidly, which means a high-quality product in less time. All in all, increased yield and accelerated growth means a higher return on investment for the cultivator. All RootMaker products are proudly made in the United States of America.

If you are looking for the most complete root-pruning products available, look no further than RootMaker. From propagation containers to sizes as large as 500 gallons, not to mention many custom options, RootMaker has a container for any style or type of growing. One of the most overlooked aspects of creating a productive garden is developing a healthy root structure. The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” couldn’t be truer for a plant’s root system. Even though a horticulturist rarely, if ever, sees the root structure, its importance is monumental. Regardless of gardening preferences, a grower can increase yields, accelerate growth rates, and reduce the time until harvest by incorporating RootMaker products into his or her garden operation. Those who do employ RootMaker containers in their gardens will witness how well their plants can perform with a healthy, resilient, and prolific root structure.

For more information call 800.824.3941, Email sales@rootmaker.com or visit RootMaker.com.

Read More Garden & Greenhouse Product Reviews

Click Here for  a Free Garden & Greenhouse Magazine Subscription

Click Here for a Free Garden & Greenhouse Email Newsletter Subscription