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Managing Roots in the Nursery for Optimal Production and Landscape Performance

In 2011 a new nursery production conference was held on the campus of Kansas State University. NurseryWorks is now an award-winning educational meeting and presentations from the inaugural event are archived and available forĀ  free at Feel free to peruse the site while we periodically post the archived presentations here.

Managing Roots in the Nursery for Optimal Production and Landscape Performance
Ed Gilman, Professor of Urban Trees & Landscape Plants, University of Florida, Gainesville

Dr. Gillman showed us how to produce a strong root system in the nursery using the correct liner trays, containers, and field techniques using examples from across the continent. There are brand new methods to eliminate root defects in containers and proven field production strategies that ensure good roots. He demonstrated how to create a root flare at the surface instead of 8 inches below the surface and how to set up a test so you can show others. We will thoroughly dissect root systems and show you how they grow in nature compared to in the nursery and landscape. The differences will surprise you and are important to understand! You will come away knowing how to improve root systems on trees of any age. You may be surprised at the amount of new research on this topic, as well as the experience of some professionals treating defects.

Topics covered include: what root attributes lead to stable trees, how trees grow in nature, growing quality root systems in container and field nurseries, how roots grow in urban landscapes, recognizing root defects, prescribing treatments for root defects, root management at planting, improving health of established trees with root pruning, root regeneration capacity, increasing anchorage with root ball shaving, and more.

K-State Nursery Works Ed Gilman
Ed Gilman Handouts
(Another 4 handouts can be found here.)


Dr. Gilman, University of Florida, has a 50% research: 50% extension teaching assignment and teaches an arboriculture class. He works with arborists, consultants, landscape contractors, tree nursery operators, urban foresters, planners, landscape architects and others engaged in tree selection, growing, planting and management issues. Research includes irrigation, fertilization, roots, and other tree transplant and after-care techniques and a recent focus on tree response to pruning.