Root pruning as a means to encourage root growth in two ornamental shrubs, Buddleja davidii ‘Summer Beauty’ and Cistus ‘Snow Fire'
Blanusa, T., Papadogiannakis, E., Tanner, R. and Cameron, R.W.F. (2007) Root pruning as a means to encourage root growth in two ornamental shrubs, Buddleja davidii ‘Summer Beauty’ and Cistus ‘Snow Fire'. Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology (82). pp. 521-528. ISSN 1462 0316
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The inability of a plant to grow roots rapidly upon transplanting is one of the main factors contributing to poor establishment. In bare-rooted trees, treatments such as root pruning or application of the plant hormone auxin [e.g., indole butyric acid (IBA)] can promote root growth and aid long-term establishment. There is little information on ornamental containerised plants, however, other than the anecdotal notion that 'teasing' the roots out of the rootsoil mass before transplanting can be beneficial. In the present study we tested the ability of various root-pruning treatments and application of IBA to encourage new root and shoot growth in two shrub species, commonly produced in containers - Buddleja davidii 'Summer Beauty' and Cistus 'Snow Fire'. In a number of experiments, young plants were exposed to root manipulation (teasing, light pruning, or two types of heavy pruning) and/or treatment with IBA (at 500 or 1,000 mg l-1) before being transplanted into larger containers containing a medium of 1:1:1 (v/v/v) fine bark, sand and loam. Leaf stomatal conductance (gl) was measured 20 min, and 1, 2, 4 and 6 h after root manipulation. Net leaf CO2 assimilation (A) was measured frequently during the first week after transplanting, then at regular intervals up to 8 weeks after transplanting. Plants were harvested 8 weeks after transplanting, and root and shoot weights were measured. In both species, light root pruning alone, or in combination with 500 mg l-1 IBA, was most effective in stimulating root growth. In contrast, teasing, which is commonly used, showed no positive effect on root growth in Buddleja, and decreased new root growth in Cistus. The requirement for exogenous auxin to encourage new root growth varied between experiments and appeared to be influenced by the age and developmental stage of the plants. There were no consistent responses between root treatments and net CO2 assimilation rates, and changes in root weight were not closely correlated with changes in assimilation. The mechanisms whereby new root growth is sustained are discussed.