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9865 Wales Road
Erie, PA 16510
(Open To The General Public)
10000 Wales Road
Erie, PA 16510


Advances in Our Container Growing:

Since our nursery began, the industry has undergone many changes. One that the nursery has adopted was an increase in container growing. By producing plants in containers we were able to really diversify our plant selection and availability. As we increase the percent of stock which is grown in containers we are continuously looking for a way to make a better container plant. Since the root system of a plant is very influential in the survival and transplant ability of a plant, we have focused our improvements there.

In 1993 we heard of a compound called Spin Out® made by Griffin Co. The Griffin Co. borrowed the old idea that copper can be used to control root growth and applied it to container production in a very practical way. In conjunction with Penn State, we at Johnston’s Nursery have experimented with this chemical root control and found it to be essential. We now treat the majority of our containers used on the nursery with Spin Out® and as we experiment with other varieties of plants, more and more will be treated in the future.

Spin Out® is a root growth regulator that is labeled for use in ornamental container production. Spin Out® is copper hydroxide in a carrier similar to a latex paint. This compound is applied to the inside of the container wall before the plant is potted. A Spin Out® treated container will have a gray coating on the inside.

The beauty of Spin Out® is that it prevents roots from circling along the sides of the container and alters the entire root distribution of the container plant. As the roots grow to the pot wall they are stopped by the copper in Spin Out®. Even though copper is an essential element for plant growth, the concentration of copper in Spin Out® is great enough to stop the root tip without causing damage to its cells. When the root stops, root branching occurs inside the container. The result of this root growth is a container plant with a very fibrous root system throughout the entire container with no circling or tangled roots around the outside of the root ball.

For the nursery, using Spin Out® has many benefits. The fibrous root system in the container allows for more area to absorb nutrients and water; resulting in a healthier plant. The concentration of the root system inside the root ball protects the roots of the plant from the extreme hot and cold temperature fluctuations that kill roots.

We are now able to provide or customers with a higher quality container plant. Spin Out® treated plants have many white root tips just inside the edge of the potting mix that are ready to grow into their surrounding soil once transplanted into the landscape. Three to six days after removed from the Spin Out® treated container the roots of the plant can begin to grow. There are no matted circling roots and no need to free the roots from the side of the root ball by cutting and damaging the roots. A healthy, vigorous Spin Out® treated plant has a better chance of maintaining its growth momentum than a plant not treated with Spin Out®. The Spin Out® treated plant is ready for the landscape, with an ability to establish quickly due to its numerous roots that can grow in search of water and nutrients.

The concept of growth momentum is based on sugar reserves. Once a container plant leaves the nursery and until it is well rooted out in the landscape it is relying on its sugar reserves to maintain it at the same vigor. The faster a plant can grow new roots to start making sugars the least effect there will be on its growth momentum. A plant that depletes its sugar reserves has very little chance of surviving; therefore, a container plant with a matted root system unable to root out into its new location will die. A plant grown in a Spin Out® treated pot has the right root system to maintain its growth momentum and live in the landscape.

We are very proud of the results we have gotten from using Spin Out® in our container production. Therefore, we are glad to offer to our customers this increase in quality. So, as you are planting container plants this year and do not find the mass of visible roots that was the standard in the past, it is a good thing. To be sure this absence of circling roots is the result of a Spin Out® treatment look for the gray coating on the inside of the pot wall.

Remember, the development and use of Spin Out® is an advancement for the nurseryman and the landscaper but not a cure all. In the nursery, a well developed root system is only beneficial if the optimal levels of water, nutrients, light, oxygen, temperature, and pest control are maintained. The same holds true in the landscape. A Spin Out® treated container plant does have the means and stored energy to prosper and survive in the landscape. Here to, optimal supplies of water, nutrients, light, oxygen, temperature, and pest control have to be achieved. The requirements do not change, only the ability of the plant to establish into an environment promising of life.

We have found that if one does not let the fear of failure retard experimentation and new ideas wonders will occur such as: The old common circling roots in containers plants are no longer acceptable. The new well distributed root system of a plant ready to root out into the landscape soil is a reality. The borrowed concept of using copper to make a better root system is the answer. And the blue sky is the limit when striving for quality.

We are excited to hear about the results our customers have with Spin Out® treated trees, shrubs, evergreens, and perennials in the landscape. Please forward your comments. Thanks.

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