Young pine tree's girdling roots

daniel_clSeptember 5, 2010

A month and half ago we planted a young (3-4 years old) eastern white tree. Today we removed the nursery's straw mulch on top of the root ball and discovered what seems to be a record-breaking number of girdling roots:

http://www.ccc-ccc.ca/tmp/temp_2010/white_pine_girdle_roots_01.jpg

http://www.ccc-ccc.ca/tmp/temp_2010/white_pine_girdle_roots_02.jpg (another angle)

Since the tree is still young and healthy, we are considering a series of surgeries starting next spring. What are your suggestions? Thanks.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If it looks possible to uncoil it maybe try that at end of winter, before new shoot growth starts. New roots come out of cut or broken roots in spring. Pull it out and wash the soil off so you can see all of the roots.

If there is a tight knot near the base that you cannot get open without breaking the connection of most of the roots to the stem - a common situation here - then specimen is pretty much hopeless. A tall-growing tree planted with a turnip root may topple later, after becoming heavy enough, pivoting over on the knot at the base.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 12:20PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Today we removed the nursery's straw mulch on top of the root ball

===>>> does that mean they planted it..

if so... make an appointment with the manager.. to come look at it .... and demand a new one ...

what is your investment in this tree???

i consider it terminal ...

ken

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 1:18PM
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daniel_cl

Thanks for the suggestions.

We bought the tree for $32 from a local nursery and planted it ourselves. Not sure where the tree originally comes from. The nursery has sold out their white pines when we visited last time.

I was impatient and proceeded with the surgery. For your amusement I have providing the "after" photos.

http://www.ccc-ccc.ca/tmp/temp_2010/white_pine_girdle_roots_01a.jpg
http://www.ccc-ccc.ca/tmp/temp_2010/white_pine_girdle_roots_02a.jpg

From the "before" pictures, roots D, E, F, G, and H were removed, along with several minor but nasty ones that buried deeper. Root A is actually fattened trunk. Root B and C are actually good roots (but I did some major damage to them, ops).

In the end, the tree was reliefed of more than half of its choking pressure. Hope the tree will recover from the damages. I am going to setup burlap barriers around the tree and fill the middle with mulched leaves.

I wonder what caused so many circling roots. The root might be originally growing in tiny containers, where the roots had nowhere else to go...?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 4:16PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I am going to setup burlap barriers around the tree and fill the middle with mulched leaves.

===>>> why, pray tell???? right up there with my caveat of killing it with too much love ...

maybe just some burlap .... at most ...

circling roots are created when it is a babe.. in a small pot.. and repeatedly potted up.. without un-circling the roots ... its a potting issue ... which is related to the grafting of the named plant onto understock which has to be grown for 3 to 5 years before it can be grafted onto ....

i would bet.. if it dies... and you dig it up .. and hose off all the soil.. you will see the old pots.. by the deformation of the roots ...

see pix below ... that tumor is almost precisely a one gal pot... and i must have cut a few.. to get some to go outwards .... but apparently not enough .. eh ...

btw.. any chance of a late hard frost or freeze right after you planted it????

ken






    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 6:13PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

There seems to be a pandemic situation where nurserymen just can't be bothered to keep container stock potted on in a timely manner. It's as if there is no concern about this fundamental and critical aspect of producing a useable product at all. Would it be okay for car dealers to offer used cars with seized up engines?

In my area it's so bad that when a specimen presented to the retail market isn't rootbound it's a remarkable rarity. Grafted conifers are among the worst. I get the impression specimens earmarked for use as rootstock may be left stuck in the same small bands or liners for sometimes year beforehand. The last two worst root systems I've encountered were on grafted conifers. One got thrown away, despite costing over 30 dollars, the other was planted with the hope that it would prevail somehow, the partial correction I was able to do without taking it to the point of surely killing the specimen being adequate.

Anything fast growing, like a Leyland cypress, Arizona cypress or eucalypt is liable to be terrible also. It's like you need to do your own propagations to get around slipshod commercial practice.

British garden writer C. Lloyd wrote he grew grafted roses long enough to get his own cuttings going, then threw away the original grafted specimen bought from a nursery.

In this case the problem would have been rootstock incompatibilities but the solution was the same.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:19PM
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daniel_cl

The photos above are shocking.

It makes me wonder whether I will be better off raising a pine tree from seed. Although it sets me back for four years, I might end up with a healthier tree and bigger tree eventually.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

your county soil conservation office.. probably sells bare root pines in spring ....

buying bare root.. makes you responsible for the roots...

most peeps here... PLANTING AT THE RIGHT TIME OF YEAR ... bare root their plants.. and perform root surgery ... to minimize the problem

ken

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 10:44AM
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