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Mar 2, 2020 12:40 AM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
Hello everyone, I have been reading whole day and I am not finding good info on this.

How much soil to add on top of the rootball on a 4m tree repotted into a 115 liters container? Top diameter of pot is 28 inches.

Most suggest not to add any, but I believe soil on top of the rootball would also help to keep the roots cool on a very hot, full-sun climate that it is placed in.

Yesterday I added 3 inches. Some will go down as I water and tree settles, so I think I will be left with 2 inches. I am willing to remove it all if it will suffocate the tree. But do consider the hot climate part.

Thanks!
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Mar 2, 2020 4:14 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
If you need to relax, grow plants!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
The.hot climate does not make any difference. Just enough soil to cover the root ball. Too much soil can lead to watering and drying issues.
In my opinion a little extra soil does not offer any cooling unless the soil is air-conditioned!!! Rolling on the floor laughing
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
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Mar 2, 2020 6:45 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
Soil on top of roots may suffocate tree.
Mulch, on the other hand... Does help to keep roots cool and moist without suffocation.
You will want to avoid mulch "volcano", but otherwise, it's pretty simple... Mulch with woodchips, straw, or whatever else is readily available.

Not knowing what kind of tree makes it hard to give specific advise...
There are trees that would be perfectly happy with lots of extra soil, would even grow roots up the trunk!
Like birch and willow... But for most... Definitely not.
Last edited by stone Mar 2, 2020 6:49 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for MsDoe
Mar 2, 2020 7:15 AM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
What sort of tree?
General advice is that planting the tree too deep, i.e. covering the base of the trunk with soil, is not good for its long-term health. See if you can find a way to shade the pot itself from direct sunlight, that helps a lot. Mulching the top might also help, but leave a little space right around the tree trunk itself. This will discourage fungus and insect problems from the mulch. I also have some heat tolerant plants positioned in the ground to shade the big pots. I sometimes lean pieces of firewood against the pots to shade them from the worst of the summer afternoon sun. Container growing is a challenge in a hot climate, find what works for you.
Obviously I don't have a formal garden!
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Mar 2, 2020 8:59 AM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
Thank you. It is Ficus Amstel King. Tree is here: https://garden.org/thread/view...

I am leaving the soil, anyway. I had other ficuses that thrived like that before. This one did not have any soil on top of rootball, to start with.
Last edited by CountingCrows Mar 2, 2020 9:07 AM Icon for preview
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Mar 2, 2020 10:22 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
I'm not surprised that you had a pot full of root.
Everything I'm reading about ficus emphasizes it's aggressive roots... Most people call them "invasive".

Really don't see that your concern is warranted. Remember that ficus often take root on other trees, like in limb crotches and what not... Growing in the small amount of organic material that may have accumulated in such places... And then sends roots down to the ground... Apparently unconcerned about how far they are exposed to open air.

Probably won't matter, But I probably wouldn't attempt to grow a tree that I valued... With extra soil on top of the root ball.

Edit:
I googled Amstel king... Apparently likes to be pot bound... And has slow growing roots.
Last edited by stone Mar 2, 2020 10:26 AM Icon for preview
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Mar 2, 2020 12:13 PM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
@stone

I don;t think it is normal to fill the pot in 2 months!

I had other ficuses also. When roots start to go out of drainage holes, it is over for the plant if you do not trim the roots and repot it.

The health of this plant detoriated immensely 2 months after I got it from nursery. And the symptoms are exacly as above, except that I did not think this could have happenned in 2 months! I am positive the plant will recover now that I repotted.

Most of these advices are I think for indoor ficuses. It is somehow different in a hot balcony.

I left only 1 inch of soil on top of the roots. I do not understand why roots need to suffocate. I have holes at the bottom, on the sides...

EDIT: I just looked at the ficus I planted with its pot inside another ficus's rectangular pot. It has 3 inches of soil on top of hte rootball and it is growing great last 4-5 months.
Last edited by CountingCrows Mar 2, 2020 12:17 PM Icon for preview
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Mar 2, 2020 1:49 PM CST
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
I'm not sure why you are inquiring here when you have already decided what you are going to do anyway.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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Mar 2, 2020 2:10 PM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
@WillC

Not cast in stone. I can always remove the soil on top.

I am trying to understand if there is some heat benefit. I think there is, given that many years I had good ficuses at the same location with lots of topsoil.

I also do think that a lot of soil around the rootball helps regulate the rootzone temperature.

Whenever this one is repotted, rootball occupies only 1/4th of the pot with 3 inches soil on top. Yet I never have any problems with this plant in the last 4-5 years. Only when roots get out of hte drainage holes, I get problems and it is time to repot. Usually once a year.


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Last edited by CountingCrows Aug 21, 2020 4:05 AM Icon for preview
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Mar 2, 2020 2:37 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
If you need to relax, grow plants!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
My apologies to WillC because I think he disagrees with me but just for argument or discussion, that the temperature at the root ball top is 100 degrees and then you add a half inch of soil to the top.
Now it is 98 degrees. Is that effective cooling? I don't think so.
So you add 2" of soil and now it is 90 degrees. Is that effective cooling? No, I don't think that it is.
If the plant was outdoors where the heat could better dissipate, then maybe. If there were intervals of shade, better still. More soil can take all of that heat energy away in such a way that a plant in a container does not experience.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Last edited by BigBill Mar 2, 2020 2:39 PM Icon for preview
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Mar 2, 2020 3:01 PM CST
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
No disagreement, BigBill. My experience with outdoor plants is limited, but everything I know suggests that keeping damp soil around the lower stems of trees has the potential to damage the trees.

I also believe that damp spoil will have a far greater cooling effect than piled-up drier soil. If temps are a problem, then more frequent watering is usually the antidote.

All of that said, I don't argue with someone else's success. If @CountingCrows has had success with this method, then I won't advise otherwise but I do wonder why he is asking.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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Mar 2, 2020 3:08 PM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
BigBill said:My apologies to WillC because I think he disagrees with me but just for argument or discussion, that the temperature at the root ball top is 100 degrees and then you add a half inch of soil to the top.
Now it is 98 degrees. Is that effective cooling? I don't think so.
So you add 2" of soil and now it is 90 degrees. Is that effective cooling? No, I don't think that it is.
If the plant was outdoors where the heat could better dissipate, then maybe. If there were intervals of shade, better still. More soil can take all of that heat energy away in such a way that a plant in a container does not experience.


@BigBill
But when you are watering, the topsoil is retaining some water for some period of time. That might help to cool the plant for some hours in scorching heat.

I am just speculating though.
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Mar 2, 2020 3:19 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
If you need to relax, grow plants!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
All good guys.
If you have success, Will makes a great point.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
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Mar 2, 2020 3:22 PM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
Everywhere it is "no no no, bigger pot, more soil root rot" ... but about having a soil mass around the container plant in hot countries might help for as long as there is drainage. I killed many with keeping water in tray before, but this one has no tray, water just drains out. And despite having soil 4 times bigger than rootball, it still is healthy unless it becomes rootbound.

None of this is explaining how that other plant filled 2 inches from all sides with roots in 2 months though. I can't keep repotting it. I hope it surives though, I waited too long to diagnose hte problem.
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Mar 2, 2020 3:52 PM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
WillC said:If temps are a problem, then more frequent watering is usually the antidote.


@WillC
I water 2 gallons every other day. With that 2 gallons, it just drips a bit to tray. If I put more, it will fill the tray.

If I water the next day, tray starts filling after half a gallon. So there is water in there.

I don't think it was possible to water more frequently. But yet I was having symptoms of not enough water.
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Mar 7, 2020 8:47 PM CST
Name: TT
MS Gulf Coast
Bromeliad Composter Container Gardener
This is an interesting question! I probably had not thought about it before so the responses are also interesting!
I am not an expert on potted trees. However, I do live in hot climate, sometimes dry, especially hot and dry in summer.
Around my outdoor trees, I planted ground cover instead of using mulch. It's Asian Jasmine that survives hot and cold!
It's a vine so I wouldn't suggest it in a pot. However, some type of organic matter, small leaved ground cover or small flowers that can take the heat, such as periwinkle? I'm drawing a blank on names, may help protect the top soil from drying out due to sun and heat. I think the ground cover helps my soil.

Sometimes in pots they use the thriller, filler, spiller theme to fill the pot. Your tree is the thriller and you could add small plants around edge of pot for the filler and spiller around the edge effect.

I'm a weekend gardener, so I don't want to give wrong advice. You should certainly follow your method that worked in the past or the advice from experts here. It sounds like you should keep the tree trunk from being damp to avoid fungus and pests.
Maybe you can think of other solutions to help with the hot and dry climate on the balcony!

Your picture is pretty and plants look healthy! Smiling
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Mar 7, 2020 9:47 PM CST
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Region: Belgium Composter Region: Europe Ferns Hostas Irises
Lilies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
A woody perennial (shrub/tree) needs the soil level to be at the root collar (the bit where the tunk widens and merges into the roots). Planting lower results in roots suffocating and eventual tree death. Where this collar is depends on the individual and should be assessed by looking closely.

If the medium gets too hot in your climate, mulching will provide a good first protection. What you also can do is shade the pot with another bigger pot (pot in pot) or use some sort of barrier to create this secondary pot. It is important to leave air space between the two layers for full cooling effect as not to cook the roots.
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Mar 8, 2020 12:34 AM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
@Arico @hiyall

Thank you for your responses.

I am not able to use another pot or something else. Space is limited. Anything added blocks our view.

If you look at this pic: https://garden.org/thread/view...

The lip of hte pot from the wall side is hacked off. I did this to be able to put the tree 2 inches closer to the wall. It is prime estate, and the pot is blocking our llving room view.

I have about 1 inches of soil on top of rootball now. Not because I wanted, but I needed soil elsewhere and since everyone was against keeping it there, it made sense to remove from that pot.
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May 3, 2020 2:59 AM CST
Thread OP
Middle East
CountingCrows said:@WillC

Not cast in stone. I can always remove the soil on top.

I am trying to understand if there is some heat benefit. I think there is, given that many years I had good ficuses at the same location with lots of topsoil.

I also do think that a lot of soil around the rootball helps regulate the rootzone temperature.

Whenever this one is repotted, rootball occupies only 1/4th of the pot with 3 inches soil on top. Yet I never have any problems with this plant in the last 4-5 years. Only when roots get out of hte drainage holes, I get problems and it is time to repot. Usually once a year.


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I will retract my statements. I think @WillC is again right: Most problems can be fixed with proper watering.

I was under the impression that it was over for the plant when roots filled the pot, but this plant has thrived tremendously and there is almost no soil in the pot, it is all roots many months now and it growing bigger and stronger.

I had to cut the roots outside the pot because they started to go inside tiles. I did not want them breaking everything. The root system outside the pot was 1 inch thick! Also we clean balcony with chemicals, so I did not want roots absorbing them.





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Last edited by CountingCrows Aug 21, 2020 4:06 AM Icon for preview
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