Vetiver Plants - When Bigger is not Better

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

At our Internet retail store, Agriflora Tropicals, we offer plants that will work well in all soil conservation applications requiring a vegetative solution. We discussed the basic rules of the Vetiver System in an early blog titled How Do I Use The Vetiver System? that answers the most frequent questions of first-time users.

We were recently approached by a contractor looking for Vetiver plants in one-gallon pots. They were seeking plant material for a project where plants had been specified to be of this size. If small Vetiver plants were so good, starting with a larger plant had to be better and quicker, right? Alas, once agai
n, the "bigger is better" myth is proved wrong.

The attached picture from Malaysia shows a plant grown in a large polybag and transplanted to the ground as a
n adult plant. Dug out some months later, we can see that the original center of the plant
never developed deep roots. Even with proper irrigation and application of fertilizers, the center roots th
at were bag-bound became senescent and did not regenerate.

Vetiver roots grow and penetrate the soil by creating new tillers and roots around the original slip or small plant once it is set on the ground. The roots of a small plant will extend like curtain layers from that center and secure the soil starting right at the center. A root-bound large plant will grow with a weak center that will never provide the needed soil anchoring. When set side-by-side in a slope, the resulting hedge will not provide the desired support and the results could be catastrophic.

Transplanting large, root-bound plants from bags or pots to save time is not cost-effective and is not the recommended technique of the Vetiver System. Save your large plants for landscaping projects or, better yet, use them to propagate new, stronger plants.

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