About Smart Pots

High Caliper Growing, maker of the Smart Pot, was incorporated as Root Control, Inc. in 1984 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  But the story actually began six years earlier when Ralph Reiger took an early retirement from a long career at Merrill Lynch & Co., the financial firm, and started The Tree Farm in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  Guthrie is not the center of the nursery business, and Ralph immediately began having problem finding people who could dig trees ball and burlap. He priced tree spades, but that was expensive, and you still needed skilled personnel. With the help of people at Oklahoma State University, Ralph fashioned the first fabric containers, called them ROOT CONTROL BAGS, and put them out at The Tree Farm in Guthrie in 1980.

The initial harvest was in August of 1982. The first thing Ralph noticed was – the trees lived! August in Oklahoma is hot, and not the right time to harvest 2” caliper river birch, or any other variety of tree. Upon inspection, Ralph realized the fabric Root Control Bag had root pruned the plant’s root structure, giving him a vastly improved plant. It was the first instance of someone using fabric to improve the root structure of a plant.

The Root Control Bag immediately gained the attention of a number of progressive nurserymen. Since incorporating in 1984, the Bag system of growing has gained thousands of customers growing millions of plants, in all fifty states and a number of countries worldwide.

In any wholesale nursery, not every plant gets sold. Customers soon noticed that, with proper care, bag-grown plants could sit on top of the ground for long periods of time, even years.  Some customers, notably the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska and Sun City Tree Farm in Ruskin, Florida, began growing plants entirely on top of the ground.  Inspections of the root structures of these plants revealed highly developed, fibrous, non-circling root masses perfect for transplanting success.  Other customers began to put aquatic plants in the bags, resulting again in quicker growth and a fuller, healthier plant.

Eventually the realization occurred that a properly formed fabric container could be a great asset to anyone trying to grow the best possible plant.  It was the smart solution.  We called one of our best customers, Sun City Tree Farm in Ruskin, Florida, and asked them what we should call the product. “I think you should call it the Smart Pot, replied J.C. Tort, Sun City’s owner, “because I feel smart when I use it.  It is economical, easy to use and does a great job of pruning the roots.” So the name Smart Pot was born.  

Gardening was the next step, as more plants were tested. In every case, aeration made a difference. Suddenly we were growing plants that were very difficult to grow in traditional plastic containers. Potatoes, strawberries, herbs, annuals, all grow better when the container they are in allows the plant to aerate and root prune.

Kurt Reiger, Ralph’s son, is now the president of High Caliper Growing.  Our office is in Oklahoma City, OK.

We enjoy feedback. Let us know how your garden responds to aeration.  Send us pictures! Contact us, or email us at info@smartpots.com. We look forward to gardening with you!

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