Life as it happens

The oak in a pot

That was a big job but the oak is now in a pot!

I have done the best I could, I hope that was enough to keep it alive! Yesterday I dug out a hole around it as deep as I could possibly manage – 40cm deep, 70cm across, removing 130L of soil. Not nearly as deep as would have been necessary to excavate the tap roots of which this tree has three! Just to be sure. πŸ™‚ I had to cut the tap roots, unfortunately! ☹️

The other small roots came out pretty much undamaged – I tried to be careful. It took me all day to dig it out, so by the evening the leaves wilted a bit – the roots don’t like to be exposed to air so much! As there was no way I could do any more gardening that day, I placed the tree into a large bucket with water so that all the roots were submerged. The leaves perked up within half an hour! It’s not dead yet! πŸ˜ƒ

I don’t remember last time my lower arms hurt so much! 😦 Let’s hope I’ve done enough.

This morning I found the tree looking quite good, actually – leaves still perky. The new green branches even turned their heads to the sun! I take it to be a good sign. Clearly, the tree does not die the moment you cut the tap roots!

For planting I’m using a 43L planter (50cm in diameter, 25cm high) which is what I could find that was wide, looked reasonable and didn’t cost a fortune. If the tree survives, we’ll invest in a proper large tree planter next year. This is however not high enough to take all the roots, so I am also using a 12L plastic bucket where I cut out the bottom. The tree hasn’t got a lot of roots at the top as you can see in the photo above, so the bucket is enough. The main roots have more room in the planter.

I put some pebbles and sharp sand on the bottom of the planter, then filled it with compost, while trying to hold the tree roughly in position. The bucket sits on the compost that fills the planter. Then I filled the bucket with compost also.

Because the tree grew next to a fence, it came out rather asymmetric with most roots pointing to one side. So rather than trying to squeeze it into the centre of the planter, I went with the roots.

The bucket is centred in the planter, so I could have a nice ring of geraniums for the summer, but the tree is set to one side.

I shall be careful checking soil humidity here because trees need lots of water but also they hate soggy roots. Fingers crossed! It will have to do its best in the next few weeks to grow new roots. It’s alive now – the branches have turned again towards the sun. Let’s hope for the best!

PS. The dog got very cross with me because I firmly insisted on absolutely no digging in the oak pot and no nibbling on the leaves or bark! I even had to ban her from the garden for a bit. Imagine that! 😀

8 thoughts on “The oak in a pot

  1. Oops! Grumpy puppy! My munchkins are banned from the greenhouse – also not amused at having a big dirt bath blocked off – even when they have two baths of their own!
    Tap roots won’t kill the plant when cut, but boy, do they ever go down deep! I think that’s because it is going to be a big tree and therefore must anchor itself well in its first year. Anyway good job – 3 blooming great roots! Treat deserved there! It looks fine – fingers crossed – it has a 50/50 chance and it has had a good transplant so far. πŸ˜€


    1. If you believe the internet, half of the people swear that cutting tap roots kills the tree on the spot. The other half swear that they trim all kinds of roots of their trees all the time and it doesn’t harm the tree in the slightest. Both are exaggerating, I reckon.


      1. It’s like peonies. They say do not transplant or you will kill them. In our last house I did that and they both survived – I’ve even brought them here to our new house. They are still in pots, but they are all shooting up and looking quite strong. My view is try it and see, some you win and some you lose. I took cuttings of some birthday roses that my son sent the other year. The shoots started to grow and sent out leaf buds – but then several weeks later keeled over and went brown. No roots! But perhaps the wrong time of year, didn’t like the compost? Who knows – it is what it is – but it won’t stop me having another go. Maybe I’m just stubborn! LOL!


      2. I remember when I was young there was an Albertine rose growing around my Wendy house and a bit had broken off. My grandmother just shoved it in the dirt – no special treatment – and the rose took root and grew! Now there’s a person who had green fingers! Have fun!


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