Begonias (Begonia semperflorens) were transplanted into an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter to evaluate the effect of root ball condition on establishment and growth. Three root ball classes were evaluated: non root-bound (NRB; 6 week old plants), root-bound (RB; 10 week old plants), and root-bound with the bottom 1 cm of the root ball removed (RBM). Non root-bound plants had greater growth rates for both height and faster rates of accumulation for cumulative root dry mass and new root dry mass relative to the other treatments tested. Cumulative shoot dry mass, new shoot dry mass, and total biomass accumulation rates were slower among RB plants compared to other rootball conditions. Mean canopy size, shoot dry mass, and biomass of NRB were significantly less at transplant; however all parameters were comparable among treatments 12 weeks later. Final mean shoot to root ratios were lower for the NRB treatment relative to RBM. Results indicate smaller, NRB transplants establish faster in the landscape. Furthermore, rootball manipulation is not recommended as it had no significant effect on root establishment or canopy growth of this annual bedding plant in the landscape.
2Assistant Professor and corresponding author.