Switching potted soil... will shock trees?

Hello Community,
I have about 75 newly-grafted trees that are between leafed out, just having popped the buds, and swelled buds. They’re in 3 gallon pots and when I potted everything up, due to the coronovirus situation, I couldn’t find the soil and amendments I normally like to use, so I ended up using some old bagged garden soil from Home Depot. Now that things have settled in a bit, it’s dense, compacted, and holds onto moisture forever, so I’m worried about root rot. I can finally get a hold of what I normally like to pot up with so would the wise Community advise to go ahead and repot or would I be running the risk of putting the trees into shock in such a delicate moment of their lives?

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I like to blend stuff I buy, because so much of it is ‘junk’ in the sense it’s more like hardwood mulch than ‘topsoil’…Lowe’s and Home Depot and Walmart have the $1.57 - $1.59 - $1.99 stuff.

Having said that, I’ve needed something to plant in many times and grab a bag of whatever is cheap.

It’s not really caused me any problems in the sense of root rot…at least not with fruit trees or bushes. (Maybe rhododendron plants or something.)

What it does cause is drying out in summer if you don’t water regular when it doesn’t rain. And some (much) shrinkage will happen over time as the bark and peat and so forth decay and shrink.

I like to take the cheap soil such as you bought and actually mix in a little real garden soil, frankly. Or, a few brands out there actually have some real soil and ground up softwood chips, which are nice if you can find them at a reasonable price.

That’s more than you asked for, Asturias_in_Ohio, but I wouldn’t switch the soil – that would be a bigger risk at this time to your young plants.

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Small pots can hold a lot of water with only drainage holes. Yuck. Anaerobes

Ive done a few methods in past a never had a shock (knock on my wooden head) mostly i like this one:
IF the pots are plastic: (If nit ive done other ways but i hope U have plastic, easier)

-To start with: press on yr 3 gallon pots so its as compacted as u can get it (this will make sense later). Gently press on top and sides to do this.

  • prep a larger pot with very light stuff - ie: fully wetted peat and Perlite, or high quality potting soil (MG is always safe, even add some perlite to it if u want). For now, make a ‘bottom’ floor in the pot with the peat/potting mix for the bottom of the tree to rest on. I usually throw some sticks and small bark pieces in there too at the very bottom of the larger pot under the potting mix. (Drainage and good microbes).
    -The ‘floor’ depth in the new pot should be same depth as yr trees are planted ie: the same soil depth in the 3 gallon pots.
    -Set 3 gallon pots on paper towels - a just few sheets thick. 1 or 2.
    -Cut with a box cutter all around the very bottom of the 3 gallon pot. Pull the bottom away (with the pot upright) so the bottom soil is resting on the paper towels.
    -Once that us done, cut the pot vertically. One straight vertical cut.
    -Pick up the pot with yr hand under the paper towels (slide hand underneath making sure the vertical cut does not open) and set it into the depression. Backfill loosely about half circumference CENTERED ON the vertical cut line. Paper towels can stay in the pot.
    -Once its seated like u want, pull the remaining part of the 3 gallon pot off towards the open 50% where there is no soil. Keep the soil/ rootball as intact as u can (why u compact it in step 1)
    -Easier if u are on the no-soil side opening it - like opening a set of wings. If its acting weird based on the pot shape and stiffness, make a second vertical cut.
    Its a wiggle job.
    -Backfill it. Done.
    If yr soil is really SUPER boggy let it sit overnight without any extra watering so the new potting mix can wick up that fluid. Water a bit next day.

Its a lotta reading but srsly 5 min, done.

Let me add to my above post…that we average nearly an inch of rainfall per week…(over 4 inches today)….

and I don’t expect to have any root rot on any of my fruit trees (over 300) in pots.

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we average nearly an inch of rainfall per year, please tell me this is a typo…

Otherwise I will never complain about having to water ever again.



(You must be seeing things!) :grin:

Actually, thanks, I edited the post.

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Ok, with some local areas getting a foot or more of rain in the past week,
I will confess to seeing a couple potted plants looking waterlogged.

(Especially some sitting where they get the rainwater off a roof. :grin:)

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