Demo of tree root strangulation invasion

hostahillbilly(4)June 27, 2012

Earlier today I pried out a few of the 'red-flagged' hostas here at Hosta Hills.

Here's a shot of the tree roots from two small hostas that I dragged out of the Hosta roots from these two small plants.

For size comparison, I left my very large size garden gloves hanging off the front of the wheel barrow containing the tree roots removed:



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tree root invasion sucks lol

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 9:59PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

So what are the signs of "tree root strangulation?"

What kind of tree was that?


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:00PM
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First, a Hosta that grew better for a few years, then began to diminish, and in the last few years, it may diminish DRAMATICALLY FAST.

So if you see one getting smaller, after only one or two or three years, it may SUDDENLY be so small that you don't even recognize it.

I really should look through pics and try to document this, but haven't, sorry.

With the vigor of this group, there may already be good documentation of this (one of the few) Hosta problem, so perhaps others will provide links to past threads, or . . .

If not, I will try to expand the informaton about this.



    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

here is a pic of silver maple.. during a septic field rebuild.. at the neighbors ...

i wonder what soil that grass is growing in .. the sand above the grass was from the backhoe ... you can see the sparse grass.. best.. over to the right ...


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:00AM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Last year I dug up my 'Sagae' (planted in 2007) because it was still really small. Its roots were huge but since it was competing with a lot of tree roots there was hardly any top growth on the hosta. I removed the tree roots and added compost, bonemeal and a handful of alfalfa pellets to the plant hole and replanted 'Sagae'. At the time I thought that if I provided more fertilizer and more regular water the hosta would grow better because 'Sagae's roots were massive. This year I found improved top growth but am now wondering whether I should relocate it in the fall. I seem to remember that franknjim had success with tree root competition and that he watered his hostas even when it was raining.

HH, how big were the roots on the hostas that you dug out?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:27AM
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That picture is really worth a thousand words! It shows a real cutaway not a drawing. If even grass has a hard time finding a hold, not just because of shade but root competition, what chance do plants have with more top growth to sustain!! Wow. Nice one.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:34AM
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irawon, the roots were, as usual, about the same size as the above ground foliage, though sometimes much, much larger, as in the size the plant originally attained.

Earlier today I managed to find the time to find yet another 'red-flagged' plant and took this picture:

Besides that it has shrunk for the past couple of years (photographically documented), Note the following:

The color is much paler than normal for this plant.

Observe the asymmetric leaf pattern: the size of some leaves are notably wider on one side of the center rib. This is VERY characteristic of this problem!

Often, and this is a perfect example (see HL), the plant bears little (and in this case NO) resemblance to a healthy one.

Finally, note the tip of the leaves curling back under the leaf.

BTW, this is (was for the time being) H. Silver Bowl.



    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Thanks for the lesson, HH. Very helpful.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:38PM
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weekendweeder(5A NY)

Yes, hh, this thread, and especially that last picture, was very, very helpful.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:20PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

HH, thanks for the info. I know now what to look for in hostas I have planted in an area with a lot of root competition.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Came across another dramatic example of tree root strangulation invasion found here amongst the Red Pine Trees.

H. 'Beauty Substance' before:


I'm embarrassed that I let it get this far, but we have enough of this cultivar elsewhere that I decided there were more pressing matters.

Those leaf tips are not cut off. They're curled under themselves, a symptom I noted earlier.



    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Myrle has had the same experience with roots but from Cedar trees. She has had the expense of purchasing grow bags after all the work of digging them out and getting the roots separated , Not a nice job. We were at our daughter's place in Arizona where they had just purchased a home and all the sewage lines had to be dug up and replaced and these were from the black popular,
They travel to where the water is the most plentiful, i guess.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:41PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have killed at least a dozen Hostas from tree root strangulation before I finally figured out what the problem was....Neighbors behind have mature Douglas Fir trees and both sides have arborvitae hedges. Both will grow roots up into newly worked and amended topsoil.

Clematis and Oriental lilies will both dwindle and die too though there are plants that will live with the trees...

The roots spread at least ten feet for the hedges and twenty or more for the trees :( basically they take up our entire back yard. I had no idea when we bought the house.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 11:16AM
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