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I grow plum trees from pits using seed starting trays:

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Unfortunately, I have a problem where the roots of the seedlings grow in circles around the bottom of the cavities of the trays. The circling roots cause problems when the trees grow to maturity (they strangle each other out).

Instead of the roots growing in circles, I need to train them downwards towards the hole (where they will be air-pruned).

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The problem is normally solved by using seed starting trays that have specialized vertical fins that prevent the root from growing in circles:

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Question:

I would like to retrofit my existing trays (I have several dozen) so that they function like the anti-root circling trays. I think this might be achieved by adding some sort of vertical fin in each cavity that would act as a physical barrier/re-router to the roots (but I'm not sure how to do this).

How can I retrofit my existing trays to prevent root circling?

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2 Answers 2

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Attach some L-shaped metal sheets or plastic parts in between holes? Attaching can be accomplished by, gluing, nailing, silicone, screwing, etc. depending on the size of the plates and your pots.

Or use straws to extend the roots radially/downwards a bit more.

Cutting any circling root is another method that I’ve seen being employed by bonsai hobbyists. However it takes time to repot the plants every month or so.

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Coffee (stirring) sticks might work.

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After potting is complete these could be inserted vertically with the narrow edge against the side of the pot in multiple positions around the edge. Seeing as your pots are conical at the bottom you may insert one stick vertically down to the start of the cone and another one on the other side at an angle to form a breaker in the conical section.

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