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Grow Fruit Trees in Grow Bags

A common myth is that plants will grow larger if potted in a larger pot, like a goldfish in a fishbowl. We run through what are the best tips for tree growing...

We often get asked this question when customers are selecting their Root Pouch grow bags for their fruiting shrubs and trees.

Will My New Plant Grow Quicker In A Big Pot?

A common myth is that plants will grow larger if potted in a larger pot, like a goldfish in a fishbowl. This seems logical, but actually, most plants prefer a snugger fit. Roots do not quickly fill a space when given room but rather grow when and where they want to, usually rather slowly.

When you repot into a much larger container, the roots are surrounded by soil and can’t pull the water from it fast enough, leaving it wet too long and drowning the roots. A smaller amount of soil dries out more quickly and allows more oxygen to reach the roots, which they need to survive. Of course, if you use a Waterpot Olla or Waterpot Spike (for narrower pots where Ollas may not fit) in the pot, over-watering will never be an issue!

Roots Will Grow Wherever The Environment Is Favourable

Some potted plants might be better off staying a certain size for aesthetic or space-saving reasons.  A tip to save having to repot really large plants  completely is to loosen the top third of the potting mix, scrape out the tired old mixture and replace it with some fresh potting mix or cut the roots back and place it back in the same pot.

Slow And Steady Wins The Plant Growing Race

For these reasons, you want to size up just a few centimetres at a time. Increasing the pot size slowly and incrementally will encourage the plant to push out new roots and comfortably fill the pot. Once it has pushed down with its "feeler" roots and felt the bottom of the pot and then reached over and touched the sides, your plant will then begin to happily push out plant growth without expending all its energy growing roots to fill a too-large pot. Instead, it will fill out and plump up in rhythm with the root system.

When transplanting because a plant has outgrown its current pot, shift to a pot 5-10 centimetres larger in diameter. Select the larger size pot for plants that grow quickly. For slow growers, a pot that's 2.5 - 5 centimetres larger works well.

Visually, the container should be about half the height of your plant (or a third of the total height of the plant plus the container).

Root Binding and Citrus Trees

Almost inevitably, the roots of potted citrus plants will outgrow the available soil and space. Unlike deciduous fruit trees, citrus dpn't lose their leaves or go fully dormant, so there is never an ideal time to remove trees from pots for root pruning. Root binding will cause most citrus in HARD pots to decline within a few to several years as roots circle, girdle, exhaust available nutrients, and become so densely packed inside the pot that water and nutrients may not penetrate. Root binding is a common cause of stress, disease, pest infestation, and death in potted citrus.

With a Root Pouch bag, root binding will not occur. The roots in a Root Pouch grow bag will grow faster and fluffier and eventually fill the bag which will indicate it's time to upsize the pot. Do this before the fluffy root ball becomes entrapped by the unique weave of the bag so 2-4 years is a good interval unless you are not wanting the tree to grow any larger. Please be aware, it can be difficult to remove a dense root ball from the grow bag and cutting the bag open with a razor or sharp scissors may be the best option so as not to damage the root ball.

Soil is Everything

To keep citrus alive and healthy indefinitely in pots, trees must be moved to a larger pot with fresh soil about every 2 to 4 years; or removed and carefully root pruned during a time of year when the tree is not actively growing or fruiting and weather isn’t hot, then returned to the same pot with fresh soil or moved to a larger pot to accomodate new growth. If roots are jarred or too much soil falls off while roots are out of the pot, the tree may go into shock or die.

It's important to try to gently remove a bit of the old loose mix from a root bound tree and remove any damaged or diseased roots before re-potting it. You want to remove some of the old mix so that the new potting mix you use does not create two zones with different soil characteristics in terms of drainage and drying out speed. 

A period of transplant shock after shifting home is a common occurence. Transplant shock occurs when the plant is unable to extract adequate water from its new surrounds. The plant needs to needs to re-establish its roots in its new pot therefore after planting care should focus on encouraging rapid root
development to restore the ability of the plant’s uptake of water. A dose of Seasol can assist with this as it helps to promote improved root growth, stimulates production of good microbes in the soil and thickens cell walls.. Leaf scorch is a common symptom of transplant shock. Leaf scorch first appears as a yellowing or bronzing of tissue between the veins. Later, the discoloured tissue dries out and turns brown. Other symptoms of transplant shock appear as wilting leaves (especially on recent transplants), dropping leaves, yellowing, and leaf rolling or curling.  

Consistent surface watering is imperative until the roots settle into their new situation. If using a Waterpot Olla it is at this point of settlement that the tree will be able to receive it's moisture from the olla.

Ofcourse if the tree is too large or mature to do this reconditioning work then adding compost annually will assist to keep the soil alive and feed the tree.

Root Pouch Grow Bags Provide Lots Of Choices!

Using the Root Pouch Size guide, you can determine the sizes of the pots in the range for your shrub or tree ro select a Raised Garden bed  for larger trees and shrubs.

For example, if you are plan to incorporate a Waterpot Olla in a bag, we would recommend either the Waterpot Bird Olla or Waterpot Tall (the same but sans Bird Topper) for its long, slender length to fit comfortably alongside your shrub or tree.

However, if you have selected a larger bag, a Waterpot Small Round Olla would also be appropriate. Our larger bags starting from the 78L bags will accomodate a Waterpot Large Olla for seedling plantings and smaller starter shrubs. Whichever bag you select, just keep the dimensions of the Waterpots in mind:

Waterpot Tall Olla Diameter 10cm x Height 26cm 1 Litre Capacity (approx)

Waterpot Bird Olla - Diameter 10cm x Height 33cm  1 Litre Capacity (approx)

Waterpot Small Round Olla - Diameter 12cm  Height: 18cm 1.25 Litre Capacity (approx)

Waterpot Large Round Olla - Diameter 16cm W x  Height: 24.5cm 3 Litre Capacity (Approx)

Please consider the overall width of the root ball of your new tree or shrub and the width of the Waterpot Olla in the bag.

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