Tale Told by a Dead Daphne
We pulled a dead Daphne from the ground this spring, planted a year and a half prior. Like detectives on the trail of a mysterious plant killer, we pulled the plant from the crime scene and sent it off to the lab. The lab was a couple feet away where the garden hose was. We washed off the dirt expecting to convict some sort of root rot as the perpetrator. They like to knock off Daphnes now and again, everyone knows this. Presumably for sport or maybe just to feed themselves, whatever their depraved urges may be. But, instead what we found was a far more intriguing.
Let the photo evidence show that this Daphne was doomed before it was even purchased! The perpetrator wasn’t a dirty rotten ground dweller of a fungus but indeed was a human! This Daphne was planted as a 2 gallon container plant, but as this photo shows, it’s fate was cast much earlier in a 3 inch liner. When the perp, probably an anonymous nursery worker, potted up this Daphne from that 3 inch liner, the Daphne undoubtedly was root bound in that liner. Its roots were much smaller and younger then, and they were in trouble. The perp did not follow proper horticultural procedures and untangle the root ball before stuffing the vic in the next bigger pot size. Thus sealing the vic’s fate.
Never have we seen such a gross case of circling, kinked, knotted, and girdling roots. The photo doesn’t do justice to the utter entanglement going on here. What might have happened is the worker was taught not to break too many roots since it is a Daphne and they are susceptible to root rot. Or maybe it was just plain laziness. Plantslaughter or 2nd degree plant murder? We may never know…
As a landscape company, we’re using this example to revise how we transplant. I’m now advocating an even more thorough investigation of the root ball before planting. This one we didn’t catch as the root ball we dealt with was a 2 gallon size much bigger than the tangled part you see here. I will follow up with another post on the latest techniques in transplanting.