The Q&A Archives: Repotting

Question: When repotting a plant, or transplanting into ground, can the roots be handled too much? Or should the dirt be broken off the roots as much as possible?

Answer: My experience has been that the less you disturb the root system, the less transplant shock a plant will go through when it is replanted. I vote for leaving the rootmass intact when transplanting. The only exception would be if the plant has been in a container and the roots are growing around and around in the shape of the pot. If not gently spread out, the roots can eventually strangle themselves and the plant will die. So, for annuals and perennials, handle the roots as little as possible. For more permanent landscape plants such as trees and shrubs, it's okay to straighten the roots and remove some of the soil when replanting.

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