These plants were in decline and removed for further inspection from a previous landscaped property. It didnít take long to figure out what the problem with these plants was girdling roots.
When shrubs or trees are grown in too small of a container for long periods of time the twisted, girdling roots shown here are the result. Once the roots begin this pattern they will continue. If the shrub or tree is young enough, the girdling roots should be removed by proper root pruning. In the case of this one, it was too far entwined to be saved. This could also pose as a problem with the planting hole not being adequately dug to the proper size, especially in hard compacted clay soils. The hole becomes just like a clay pot or container, restricting further root growth not much further from the original root ball. This begins the process of the roots encircling the planting hole continuously. The result will be girdling roots. Frequently the shrub or tree will look healthy for years, until the plant takes on a continuous stressed or declining appearance. Symptoms usually increase during hot and dry period due to the restriction of water and nutrient uptake through the now dysfunctional root system. Many times the shrub or tree will show early leaf drop or fall coloration. When purchasing plants it is wise to remove the plant carefully from the container and inspect the root system for girdling roots. You should see a fine network of small fibrous roots combined with some fairly loose soil mix. Check the very bottom of the root ball also, for this is where the problem will most often occur first.
This is only one potential problem with plant roots and root disorders are usually not recognized until it is too late. Yet root related problems are some of the most serious problems shrubs and trees have today.
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