Tree girdling ...can this tree be saved?

Asked October 18, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

I have a Red Maple. I noticed some dryness on the tips of some leaves. The Internet told me to check for Girdling. I did and it is happening. I've had the tree for three years and I bought it in a plastic container. Can you tell if the tree has a chance of surviving based on these pictures. As you can see there is one big root growing the right way. Any help would be appreciated.

Davidson County Tennessee trees and shrubs girdling roots horticulture

1 Response

From the photos that you sent it looks like there is one main root that is growing correctly. The tree is otherwise affected by girdling roots at or below the soil line which will gradually strangle the trunk and cut off sap flow from the stems and leaves. Trees such as maples can be prone to their formation. Trees and shrubs that are container grown and pot bound frequently develop girdling roots. It is important to spread roots of pot bound plants to prevent this problem. See our website on girdling roots. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/shade-trees-girdling-roots

At this point, since the tree is young we recommend replacement. Even if you made cuts to remove some of the roots the tree will most likely struggle and decline. You still have time to replant a tree. When you select a container grown tree at the nursery, knock the tree from the pot and inspect the root system. If the roots are encircled within the container they need special treatment to loosen the roots when planted. See our website for the planting process of container grown plants. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/planting-process
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