How To Deal With Root-Bound Trees

When plants grow, they pass through various stages of development until they reach maturity.

Such a growth process isn’t without its many challenges, as some trees may develop certain conditions that could affect the normal growth process. Root-bound trees will be under focus in this article.

Our discussion will seek to find out what this problem is about and how to deal with it.

This will cover a variety of solutions, including common symptoms and causes. You only have to read alone to find as many details as possible on dealing with a root-bound tree problem.

About Root-Bound Trees

A lot of changes occur during plant growth. These changes are primarily development-related.

As conditions become less than optimal, the tree finds ways to overcome such a problem. This is a rough picture of what happens with root-bound trees. First off, it happens mainly to trees grown in a pot.

Normal growth conditions play out as trees are placed in a pot until such a tree outgrows the holding container or jar. To better explain, the nutrient requirement of plants increases as they grow.

Trees have to produce new stems and root systems to reach more minerals in the soil, converted to nutrients.

The fewer nutrients in the soil within the pot, the more the roots produced by the tree. This is seen as a desperate action that springs from nutrient deficiency.

So, how do you identify a tree with a root-bound problem? There are several symptoms to look out for.

Root-Bound Tree Signs to Look Out For

Without identifying root-bound symptoms, there’s no way of knowing how to respond.

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Some simple signs or symptoms show up to alert you to the problem. These are pretty easy to identify. They include small leaves and more roots than the soil being observed.

Other common symptoms of root-bound include leaves appearing scorched and curly. These conditions often lead to dropping leaves too.

For a better idea of what these are, let’s take a brief look at each of these symptoms;

  • Small Leaves

When a tree is root-bound, you’re likely to find it has tiny leaves than usual. This symptom alone might not give you a complete picture of what’s happening.

Small leaves are a sign of exhausted nutrients hence their stunted growth. If you’re still unsure, look for the other symptoms mentioned below.

  • Having More Roots than Soil

Do your potted trees have more roots than soil? If so, where has all the earth disappeared to? Potting mixes used for growing trees consist of organic matter.

These contain lots of minerals which are converted to nutrients by the tree. Now, most of these minerals are eventually absorbed by the plant.

With a mineral (nutrient) deficiency, you’re likely to find too many tree roots showing up, with about one-third of the soil or mineral matter is gone. This symptom isn’t challenging to identify.

All you have to do is look closely. You’ll find the pot overrun by these roots.

  • Scorched & Curly Leaves

Another possible sign of trouble with your tree is when you observe scorched and curly leaves showing up.

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This unusual appearance is a clear sign of water shortage. Here, water applied to the plant doesn’t last long due to the volume of roots. A definite solution has to be made available.

All of the above conditions combined are a clear sign of root-bound trees. With this problem identified, what actions should be taken?

You must follow specific steps to restore your tree to average growth.

Solutions To Root-Bound Trees

After probing for possible issues and confirming your fears, you’ll need to carry out specific actions. Before you begin, you’ll need to put the right things in place.

These include finding an appropriate container and getting a fresh potting mix. An essential tool for this job is a sharp and clean pruning shear.

After making these preparations, you’ll need to have the tree extracted and your potting mix emptied into the new pot provided. Next, have the excess root layers cut off.

Place the tree in the new container and cut back on some leaves further. Water the soil.

  • Extract the Tree

The root-bound tree first needs to be removed from the old pot. This is necessary to help address the problem by finding a more big pot.

Expect the base to be a lump or ball of roots. It would help if you didn’t transfer this directly to the new pot. Instead, it needs to be prepared first.

  • Empty Potting Mix into the Pot

The new pot provided needs to be prepared.

The process here is simple. You only need to pour in some of your soil or mix to the desired level. It should be such that it ensures the tree stands at the desired level.

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You’ll have to temporarily place the tree into the pot to observe the level it reaches.

  • Cut Off Excess Roots

Now, take out the tree and begin to cut the external layer of the root system. Now you may wonder about the extent of cutting to be made.

The easiest way to figure out the process is by cutting back on roots and touching the previous pot’s inner walls. Your shears will be an excellent tool to use.

  • Place in new Pot

You’re now ready to place the tree in its new location with excess roots. Once the tree sits in the correct position, you’ll need to empty the rest of the potting mix around the tree to cover its bases.

Scatter the soil around the plant until it’s even. You might want to cut off some old leaves as well.

  • Water the Soil

At this stage, you’re done with addressing root-bound issues.

You’ll have to water the soil so that it isn’t saturated with water. It should be moist. Results aren’t instantly apparent. It will take some time before the tree shows signs of revitalized growth.

These are practical steps to deal with root-bound trees.

Another option you have is hiring a tree expert to address the problem. This way, you get to avoid the stress of the job.

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