How to Prune Roots Before Transplanting


When transplanting plants, proper preparation of the roots will ensure transplant success and the continued health and vitality of your plants. When you have the plant out of the soil, you have the opportunity to examine the roots carefully to assess the health of the root system. If you find unhealthy root growth, you can then prune roots before transplanting the plant. A healthy root system will keep the plant able to absorb water and nutrients from the surrounding soil.

Step 1

Spread the tarp out on the ground, and place the plant or shrub on the tarp.

Step 2

Examine the root system of the plant carefully, looking for dead and damaged roots. Look for roots growing in a circular pattern around the outside of the root ball and roots growing in a tangled, kinked mass.

Step 3

Use the sharp knife or pruning shears to cut away all roots you find that appear dead or damaged, cutting these roots back to the point of healthy growth. Healthy roots appear white or gray in color. Unhealthy and dead roots will appear brown or black. If you find tangled roots, or roots growing in a circular fashion, use the sharp knife or pruning shears to cut these away back to the point where the abnormal growth begins.

Step 4

Discard the removed roots, and place the plant into the hole you prepared for transplanting.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp
  • Sharp knife or pruning shears


  • North Dakota State University: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: transplanting plants, examine the roots, prune roots

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.