shelley_r(7b NC)October 3, 2004

I recently planted a red buckeye that was pot-bound and had a taproot that went around in circles. I posted about it on the trees forum and someone that I believe to be very knowledgeable said that it would have been better to cut the taproot so it would be straight.

I also remember a recent thread on one of the forums that said cutting don't ever grow taproots.

Would someone like to provide a little primer on taproots? How they grow, how they respond to trauma, etc. Thanks.


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A taproot is the main root that grows downwards. A taproot is the embryonic root and if you cut it, another taproot will not grow (roots on cuttings are called adventitious).

Different functions that taproots may have include anchoring the tree/plant in its place, serving as a food storage organ, etc.
It is said that you're supposed to cut the taproot that isn't straight because keeping deformed taproots results in both deformed shoots and retarded aerial growth. For the first I do not know, but as for the retarded growth I don't think there would be such a big difference since roots find their way out pretty quickly and start heading downwards as soon as they are given the opportunity.
I hope this helped, sorry I couldn't be of further help.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 7:42AM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

i would agree that u need to cut them if they are wrapping around or pot bound. i find that trying to shove a root bound tap root into the ground is no good and just asking for trouble. i would also try to shave off some shoots also.
when pruning roots, always try to prune shoots so the root/shoot ratio is enough for the plant, or the poor thing dies of thirst cuz its hard to turn off transpiration:)


    Bookmark   October 22, 2004 at 9:24PM
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Taproots have some cells that keep the root surface smooth and keep soil moisted so that downward movement of the root becomes easier.Cutting off taproots will affact the plant growth for sometime till roots recover and become healthy enough to function properly.
Taproots of carrot, radish ,beats etc. will not yield good crop if they get cut off by chance.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 9:45AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Taproots are used for anchorage, not conduction. Many plants, and most deciduous trees loose their tap roots as they mature, in favor of an extensive, shallow root fibrous root system. It is in the root tips (and root hairs) of these non-woody roots that water and minerals are absorbed.

Mucigel, a substance secreted by the root tip, is to help the millions of roots tips in this absorbing root system move through the soil. Most of this working root system is in the top 12 inches of soil.

Nurseries should not sell pot bound plants, at least not to the point where the heavy tap root has wound around itself. These plants often die in a few years.


Here is a link that might be useful: Root information

    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 2:39PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Rhizo 1 is right, but nurseries still sell plants with roots wrapped around the pot. Monocots and herbaceous plants tolerate this condition but it may take a long, long time for a large shrub or tree to grow out of it. Meanwhile, the plant is much more likely to lean or fall over in a storm - even decades later. It is possible for a circling root to wrap around the trunk and constrict the phloem, killing the plant. I have seen many plants that tend to produce tap roots produce a fibrous root system and grow well because of high ground water or shallow soils over bedrock. I am in the camp that says cut back a circling tap root if you get one. Better yet, pull the tree out of the pot at the nursery and check the roots before buying it. This won't show you all of the root architecture problems but it will show you the most recent.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2004 at 10:30PM
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