I recently purchased a contorted filbert in a 3-gallon pot and am ready to plant it. I’ve read that one should make cuts in the roots to encourage growth, but I’m afraid to do so. What’s your opinion?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Diane: As gardeners we want to do everything we can to make sure our new addition is properly cared for. You are correct in wondering if you should cut the roots or not. The last thing we want to do is damage our plants before we even get them in the ground. When it is time to plant the contorted filbert, gingerly remove it from the nursery pot and loosen the roots. Your hands will work just fine for this task. There is no reason to cut the roots unless they are REALLY root-bound or girdled in the container, meaning that they are literally going in circles, wrapping around the root ball. I would not suspect this to be the case, so just lightly pull apart the roots and spread them out in the planting hole. The hole should be dug just as deep and twice as wide as the 3-gallon container it was purchased in. Making it twice as wide allows room for the roots to be spread out. Treat it like any other new addition to the garden, watering 2-3 times per week depending on rainfall, and avoid fertilizing for the first year. A mulch layer of no more than 2 inches will help keep the moisture in and the weeds down. Make sure you are planting in a space where the filbert will get full sun. Hopefully this is a space you can see outside of your window. Structurally they are wonderful during the winter months.