Repotting Almond Tree…. Fig Tree in Pot Always Dry
Hello, As you can see I have 2 different questions. I humbly beg your assistance as I am so far not very good at looking after my new fruit trees. Ok so first question: 4 days ago, I purchased 2 almond trees that are 2 years old, they are about 85cm tall and in 8\'\' diameter plastic bags. I wanted to let them grow really well, so I thought it would be a good idea to repot them into pots that are 22\'\' in diameter and 17\'\' deep. (I used a potting mix called Amgrow Nu-Erth Premium potting mix). I watered them with 2.5gallons water each (only time I have watered them) Well to my disappointment, today I saw a video of a guy who said NOT to just repot plants into huge pots, because water will take the path of least resistance and just go around the actual rootball of the plant and while the rest of the pot is moist, the plant won\'t actually get much. So I got a moisture meter and hoped that the garden expert, who probably grows fruit trees for a living, would be wrong. well, when I put it in the middle and outer portions of the pot, it read between 6-10 (1-3 being dry, 4-7 moist, 7-10 wet). And when I stuck it into the original 8\'\' diameter around the trunk, it read 3-4. So I guess the garden expert was correct. So Now I don\'t know if I should pull it out and put it in a smaller pot. Or If I should find some rolled up hard plastic and push it all the way to the bottom so it is sorta like a pot within a pot so the actual roots are contained in only 10\'\' diameter. What do you suggest I do? Second question: I also recently got a 5 year old fig tree (about 5ft tall and 4ft wide) that is in a heavy cement square pot (20\'\'cubed). Well, I watered it 3 days ago with 2.5 gallons, and yesterday I used the moisture meter and it read 3 (dry), so I watered it another 2.5 gallons the same day. when I checked it this afternoon it still was on 3 (dry). Do you know why this is? The potting mix for the almonds is still really moist, but the fig tree soil is really dry (I don\'t know what sort of soil it is, but I guess its sandy. Or how often the previous people watered it.) It does have standard playground mulch on the top. What do you suggest I do? (do I have to repot the whole thing?) Thank you for reading, and I do hope you can help me out with these questions. like I said, I don\'t know anything about gardening, I was hoping to \'learn as I go\' but I don\'t wanna lose these first 3 trees that I got while doing it)
Regarding the fig; it could be sandy soil as you suspect, which drains very fast and doesn't hold soil moisture.
I love soil moisture meters but I find that they sometimes don't give a true reading is some soil types. So don't depend on it 100%.
I think it would be to your advantage to discover the nature of the existing soil. Take off the mulch layer and set it aside while you dig a little with a slender trowel or a spoon. Be careful not to gouge roots, but try to find an area where you can dig down a little and see what the soil looks like.
If it is indeed sandy, or a course organic matter that drains freely, then its going to be a problem in keeping the tree watered adequately. You may need to repot.
Regarding the almond trees; I would not worry too much about the discrepancy in soil moisture between the potting soil and the original root ball. The outer layer of the root ball will moisten somewhat, and that is where most of the absorbing roots are located. In a short time the new roots will begin to grow out into the potting soil and that's what counts. In the short term, what I would do to insure the root ball is moistened as best possible, is to use the moisture meter probe or a screw driver to poke some holes straight down into the root ball, about half way out of the radius from the stem to the outer circumference of the original root ball. Then water slowly and directly over the root ball to try and get some water infiltration into that area also. Go slowly with the probe and if you encounter obstacles that may be major roots, back off and probe another spot.
I don't believe it's necessary to try and contain the inner root ball with a secondary inner plastic as you were considering.
In the second photo of the repotted trees, they do not appear wilted, so that is a good sign that they are not suffering transplant shock or water deficit.