Last spring, I was lucky to be able to attend an entire workshop on trees hosted by Collier’s Arbor Care. We learned about different aspects of tree care, which I wrote about here.
For a while now, I’ve had a rescued tree languishing away in a far too small pot. I got it for next to nothing, knowing full well that it was exceptionally root bound. Even so, I decided to go for it, because I happen to really like that kind of tree – it is a Gleiditsia triacanthos inermis ‘Sunburst’ (or Honey Locust) – and figured I’d try out my newfound knowledge on it. Knowing what I’ve learned about root bound trees in nursery pots, there really wasn’t much point in giving it a larger pot until I really had time to tackle the issue. Anyway, today was the day.
As you can probably see, this is just one big clump of tangled roots and very little soil.
I took out the watering hose, and started untangling, rinsing the roots clean one little piece at a time.
At first, I just used my hands, but soon I had to bring out secateurs, a saw, and a crowbar. Damn, those roots were tangled!
Some roots were strangling each other. I cut those off.
Here, most of the roots have been freed, but you can see how they are shaped to the contours of the pot they had been locked in for so long. Poor things…
Here is finally the liberated root ball. I think I spent the good part of two hours on separating roots as gently as I could. What a tangle, huh?
I grabbed the biggest pot the house has to offer (thank you, MaryBeth!) and poured enough soil in there to make a mound. Then I centered the tree on that mound and pulled the roots out in a splaying fashion. It fought me all the way, as the roots were so misshapen. They wanted to grow the way they were used to. Oh well, I separated them as best I could, and added some fertilizer with mycorrhizae. Hopefully it will begin to feel loved.
Here’s the tree in its new pot!
Here is a close-up of its leaves. Now you see why I wanted to try to rescue it – its airy, chartreuse loveliness is worth it – if it survives. It’s not a tree that casts dense shade – it provides a light green, filtered light that I love.
So, why did I plant it in another pot, you ask… Well, it’s a temporary arrangement. The southwest corner of our lot is currently occupied by the biggest lilac I have ever seen. A couple of years ago, one of its three trunks blew down, and other parts of it are looking awfully brittle too. I started hacking away at it (and all its little suckers) last week, but I think I’m going to have to get some help to get it all out. You can see its two-trunked glory behind the Fatsia and the Aucuba.
Here you can see its deteriorating old trunk. Better to get it out now, than when it itself decides it’s time. If the ‘Sunburst’ survives my violent treatment, it will take its place – thus the temporary potted arrangement. Time will tell – now we wait! Fingers crossed it makes it!