Have you noticed fabric around the roots of several of your plants? Should you remove the mesh around plant roots? This black fabric, on a white tissue for better contrast, is a mesh pot or net pot. It is used in commercial plant propagation by some companies to easily transplant small plants to a larger container as it grows bigger. The mesh helps with that without disturbing much of the root system.
Mesh around plant roots is also common in orchid propagation and in hydroponics. You can leave without worrying it will disturb the root system. Aglaonemas, for example, will outgrow through those holes. Or, if you like, you can remove it by cutting it with a scissor.
Should you remove the mesh?
The question for many homeowners and garden enthusiasts is should they remove the mesh around plant roots. No matter which type of tree you are planting, you might find wire mesh from around the root ball. Will the tree or plant has problems growing?
Now, this is quite an important question. Many people think that the wire mesh around the tree’s rootball will rust and not cause a problem.
It depends on different factors. For example, in the alkaline soils, usually found in the Southwest, the wire doesn’t rust rapidly enough. The plant may survive for several years, but after a while, the roots will be girdled and cut by the wire. What happens next is the plant will die.
The reason why many trees fail to establish or grow poorly is improper planting. The wire is often one of the problems, and improper preparation of the planting site is another.
Now, in areas like the Southeast, it is important to remove the wire mesh from the rootball. But be careful when removing it. Do it improperly, and you will damage the tree. Make sure to remove the wire and any burlap around the roots after the tree is placed in the planting hole and you are ready to replace the soil in the hole.
Removing the wire mesh before placing the tree in the hole might damage the rootball when you place the tree in the hole. Also, loosen the soil in a large circle around the planting hole and then dig a deep one.
In areas other than the Southeast, you can keep the mesh around the plant roots. It will not cause a problem.
What are plugs? Many plants can be grown from what is called a plug. It is made from different materials. Plugs are used to provide correct growing conditions for the tiny plant or seed and encourage healthy root growth. Once the root system is established, the plant can be potted into the soil, with the plug as it is made of a degradable material. It will not hinder the future growth of the plant.
A common misconception is that plugs cause issues. This is the same as mesh around plant roots. Plants die because of improper treatment of the plant by indoor gardeners. When they find their indoor garden plants have died, they look for a cause. And because they do not fully understand the plug and its correct use, that is where they direct the blame sometimes.
Plants might die because they are being overwatered or instantly repotted.
Speaking about the netting, do you remove it from the root ball before planting? No, you do not remove mesh around the roots when planting. It is there to protect the roots and will rot away completely over time.
Once the plant is in position the tie around the stem can be loosened or cut. Do this only when you have placed the plant in position.
Why do plants fail to grow?
Many owners and gardeners do this. Their plant starts to struggle, they look into the soil to find out why, and they see the plug/mesh and direct the blame to it. They conclude the plug or the mesh around the roots is the issue.
In fact, the healthy plant has had its root system rotted away and is just surviving with what remains in the plug.
Plants start looking “sad” due to overwatering, and their color diminishes as they are not getting enough nutrients.
The mistake indoor gardeners do is they find the plug early on and label it bad. It is an incorrect and highly evocative description. They decide to remove it even if the plant has a root system in the soil and beyond the plug itself.
Now, what might happen is they remove the plug/mesh and the plant starts flourishing. But the reason is gardeners are no longer overwatering the plant. Now, at no point, did the plug or the mesh was stopping the plant from getting the correct amount of water.
Just remember, removing the mesh or plug can cause damage to the root system. If you care for your plants properly, the mesh will never be an issue.