If you ever do much planting of herbaceous plants from plugs, you know how vastly different stock from different nurseries can be.
This can lead to frustrating results, especially if the plug flats have been kept around for too long - Rootbound perennial plugs just don't do very well; it's very hard for the roots to break out of that plug. Cutting the plug is a risky proposition, especially if you're planting in an area where you won't be able to water much after planting - This is something we've seen constantly with projects in parks and other areas where access is limited for after-care.
After doing some plantings ourselves with less-than-optimal stock, and having more than half of the plugs die, we knew we had to come up with something better.
Interestingly enough, this better solution was right in front of us the whole time: Rootmaker.
The RootMaker System has been used for years, especially in the landscape tree industry - We have always grown our tree seedlings using RootMaker plug flats before planting them into our larger SuperPlug containers. We just never thought about using them for herbaceous perennials!
Our first trials blew us away - The plants grew incredibly quickly, filling the trays within a few months after starting from seed. What really sold us on the idea was what happened after we planted! We planted the plugs in a prepared area, watered them once, and left them to fend for themselves through a relatively dry summer.
Because RootMaker plugs have a unique stepped design that allows for openings over the surface of the plug, the roots don't just grow out from the bottom of the plug like they do in typical plugs - They grow out from the air-pruned root tips all over the surface of the plug! Because they're able to take up that much more water and nutrients, they establish remarkably quickly. By the following spring, the plantings came back in pretty much full thickness - Something we had not seen with standard plugs.
If you do a lot of planting of plugs for naturalized plantings (Parks, conservation projects, minimal-maintenance landscapes, etc.), give us a call! We'd love to provide you with RootMaker-grown plugs for your next planting project.
At GreenTec Nursery, our objective is to provide you with the highest quality seedlings. The RootMaker system, through air-root pruning, has been show to exponentially increase seedling survival rates, as well as subsequent growth. Ribs in the side of the liner cells direct roots to openings, where they naturally dry out and cease growth. This results in a flush of new root growth, which is also directed to the openings and root pruned. The result is a well-branched root system that grows in all directions instead of straight down - The hundreds of additional root tips also make the seedling more efficient at pulling up water and nutrients, causing the plant to grow much more quickly than it otherwise would.
Rootmaker liners are the fastest establishing, sturdiest liners. We have had 100% establishment here at the nursery in our trial plantings - The trees grow much faster than they would in the wild, as well. Oaks planted as 16-24" tall seedling plugs typically grow to 4-6 feet in their first growing season after planting, and can reach 7 to 10 feet the following year!
The picture on the left shows a yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) plug at the end of the growing season - Started in mid-March, these plugs were 16-24 inches tall by the end of August. Notice the full, well-branched root system and the healthy, vibrant leaves.
The picture on the right shows 2 pin cherries (Prunus pensylvanica), two years after they were planted. Seeds were started in February, and the liners were planted in June - By August of the following year, they had bloomed once already and were 8 feet tall!