American Rose Magazine  1(13): 8 (Jan-Feb 1935)
Root-Pruning
J. H. Nicolas, D.Sc., Newark, N. Y.
"A" shows where the old roots were pruned before planting.

The accompanying photograph takes the place of a long story.

This plant was set in late April and dug November 10. The roots were pruned at points indicated by the letter A. Note the many fibrous roots which grew at the sections.

The object of root-pruning is the same principle as making cuttings. First a callus or swelling of soft tissue forms from which roots grow like spokes on a hub.

Since feeding-roots generally are annual and partly disappear, to renew themselves each year, most of the old fibers on the dormant plant received from the nursery are useless, and the first function of the plant is to grow new fibrous or feeding-roots. The process of shortening the heavy roots is to promote and accelerate the growth of fibrous and feeding-roots; each root, after a fashion, becomes a "cutting" by itself.

This plant was a Rev. F. Page-Roberts, naturally a slow, weak grower, yet with the impulse of the new fibrous roots activated by root-pruning, it has made a remarkable growth for the first year. If it were not for the root-pruning, the plant would have merely vegetated as did other plants not root-pruned, planted at the same time.

A plant not root-pruned has no ready place to quickly make new fibers; these will come, in course of time, along the old roots, but they will take a much longer time to develop and all the while the plant is at a stand-still or growing slowly and feebly.

Most often, roots are more or less mutilated and shortened by the digging process, but however shortened they already are, a fresh cut with a sharp knife must be made at planting-time. A cutting will not callus if the tissues at the end have been allowed to dry even but a few minutes.

Of course, it goes without saying that tops must also be severely pruned. To plant a rose as it comes from the nursery, even if already partly pruned, is courting disaster.