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"Root competition"

Started by Lloyd - 4060 Tuesday, 29 March 2016
 G"day - sorry, I have just been lurking for a good while, but hopefully someone will be prepared to help me, please. I want to put three Persian Shield plants (Strobilanthe) spaced out in a 6 metre garden bed that has good side light (although under two biggish trees) to form an under-storey along with some other plants. Very adjacent are two established (but spindly) native cordilines (the tall one with green leaves). I have been able to dig one hole (for a start) but there are a lot of fibrous roots and for sure they will over-power the new plantings (in 140mm pots). I was going to pot them up a size and plant them pots and all, so they would come on free from competition and then send roots through the holes in the bottom of the pots. I could cut out the sides of the pots come summer when the root system might be more robust and let them go for it on their own then. What is the opinion on whether this would work or not? Or is there a better alternative. Advice appreciated.
Member Responses

 Diane - 4075 Tuesday, 03 May 2016
 I am growing Persian Shield in a similar situation and I dug a hole at least twice the size of the pots the Strobilanthe plants came in cutting away all the fibrous roots of the Mock Orange (Murraya paniculata) trees (planted before my time). I then planted the Strobilanthe in a good mix of compost and soil and it has never looked back. The Strobilanthe seem to require a lot of summer moisture so I would suggest adding some water retaining crystals to the hole as well. In one season the Strobilathe has become quite large and leggy reaching towards the sun but I have rooted cuttings in water as a replacement if needed and to give to friends when pruning back. I would now recommend frequent tip pinching to cause it to fill out more. I am no garden guru and this is just from my experience in my Brisbane clayey soiled garden which I continuously mulch to improve. I hope may be of some help to you.

 Lloyd - 4060 Tuesday, 03 May 2016
 Brilliant! Very similar circumstances to mine , so I can draw confidence from your experience - thank you Diane. I have removed the nearby cordylines and planted one strobilanthe in a larger pot with the bottom removed. It seems to need watering pretty frequently, much the same as the other potted specimens that I have yet to plant. No surprise really I suppose! But it is growing strongly. So I will folow your example with the other two - I have two holes already dug, but will enlarge them and try that soil/compost mix. I believe the leggy habit can be managed with attention to pruning and I will give that a go, if the overhanging shade seems to enourage that. Thanks again - very reassuring advice.

 Lloyd - 4060 Monday, 05 September 2016
 Just an update -- planting the pot with the bottom removed did not seem to be working out too well so I have re-planted it and it seems to be progressing more successfully, even through winter - it is in a sunny spot though. Of the other two - one has developed quite strongly, the other, more shaded, has become somewhat straggly and interestingly it is producing small flowers along the straggly branches. I assume the plant does blossom, but I hadn"t seen that before. Anyone else?

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