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Maples grown in different propagation containers

Red maple (Acer rubrum) in four different propagation container types grew very different root systems in the first 4 months (cuttings stuck August 10, harvested December 10) after sticking cuttings. Cuttings were stuck about 1.5" deep. Each container type has four or five examples.

smooth sided container

circling roots

Large roots circled the periphery of the container.

circling roots

Root circling is evident in this photograph.


roots deflected in different directions

Roots deflected in many different directions once they met the plastic side of the container.



roots growing towards surface

Many roots grew up toward the surface. These can develop into stem girdling roots as they grow across the top surface or around the container periphery.

Smooth sided cone

roots from smooth sided cone

Roots grew mostly down on some trees.

roots from smooth sided cone

Many roots grew down, and others grew up.

roots growing up side of container can become circling roots

Close up showing how roots that grow up the side of the container can become circling and stem girdling roots.




main roots of trees deflected down

Main roots on most trees were deflected down the sides. Active root tips were mostly on the bottom of the root ball. Secondary roots can be seen growing up to the surface. We don't know how many of these turn into potential stem girdling roots.

Elle pot

elle pot roots


some roots deflected to top of container

Many roots grew up when deflected by the container wall in the top portion of the container. These should be removed. Some roots in the middle and lower levels deflected down.

roots growing down at angle

Many roots growing down at an angle. Some grew through the paper and did not deflect. No circling roots were found in this container type.

mass of roots deflected down

Large main roots deflected down. Most trees in this pot produced roots right at the surface. Trees in other pots were less likely to grow roots from the stem this close to the surface.

Smooth sided square container

roots from square smooth container

Square containers produced the largest trees.

roots deflected both down and up

Main roots were deflected down the container sides. Some roots were turned upward after deflection by container bottom.

roots deflected down container sides

Many roots deflected down container sides.

main roots deflected down container sides

All main roots were deflected down container sides.