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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 41, Issue 5 — September 2015

Container and Landscape Planting Depth and Root Ball Shaving Affects Magnolia grandiflora Root Architecture and Landscape Performance    (View PDF)

Edward F. Gilman, Maria Paz, and Chris Harchick

Abstract: Plants were grown in a 2 × 2 factorial combination of planting depth in nursery containers and at a landscape installation to study effects on root architecture, growth, and mechanical stability of Magnolia grandiflora L. Planting depth into containers or landscape soil had no impact on bending stress to tilt trunks 40 months after landscape planting, and impacted neither trunk diameter nor tree height growth 68 months later. Trees planted 128 mm deep into 170 L containers had more circling roots at landscape planting and 68 months later than trees planted shallow in containers. Root pruning at landscape planting reduced the container imprint rating on the root system to one-third of that absent root pruning with only a 4 mm reduction in trunk diameter growth over 68 months. Improvement in root architecture from root pruning likely outweighs the rarely encountered downside of slightly less anchorage in an extreme weather event simulated by winching trunks. Trees planted 5 cm above grade were slightly—but significantly—less stable in landscape than trees planted deeper (10 cm below grade). Root pruning at planting to remove roots on root ball periphery appeared to improve root architecture while only slightly impacting growth and anchorage.

Keywords: Anchorage; Bending Stress; Circling Roots; Magnolia grandiflora; Nursery Containers; Planting; Root Pruning.

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