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Old 04-21-2011, 01:19 PM   #1
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Default Root Pruning...what to cut

So I was poking around my one surviving hop plant from last year (centennial). I found a ton of roots about 1" below the surface extending out in all directions, around 1 cm thick. Imagine my surprise when I pulled at one, and over 5 ft of root pulled up out of the ground, extending WAY out from the plant. It's pale white, kinda fleshy looking, with tons of roots branching off it. Looks like some weird kind of medieval whip.

So, is that a rhizome? (doesn't look like the brown rhizomes I get from the store). Can I cut it off near the plant? Don't wanna harm the plant, but also don't want hundreds of centennial shoots popping up everywhere...should I just cut around the root ball with a spade and yank out anything I hit?

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Old 04-21-2011, 01:32 PM   #2
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The roots basically grow 'downward' and rhizomes out and away from the crown, usually within the top 6 or so inches of the surface. The 'roots' that you see branching off of it, if they are white and fleshy and spaced between 4 and 6 inch intervals, are buds that have pushed out and will turn into shoots/vines. You may also see very fine threadlike roots coming off of the rhizome - if that's what it is. If this is the case, follow it back to the crown and you can lop it off, cut it between each set of buds and plant each section. These should grow if it is a rhizome. Most of the rhizomes you buy commercially don't have buds sprouting because they can get out to dig them before they break dormancy.

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Old 04-21-2011, 02:26 PM   #3
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Sweet, so I can hack at anything growing "out and away" with impunity then? While I'd love to plant hundreds of these things, I don't have the room...

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Old 04-21-2011, 03:20 PM   #4
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Yeah, just trim to the point where it looks like they are in line - and then trim a little more. Having the room to plant them is one thing, having the TIME to tend to them is another. Spring is usually a crush and the next few weeks leading into the summer you're busy trying to keep up with the onslaught of extra shoots that seem to endlessly continue to pop up. This is why I like to beat them back into submission every 3 yrs or so. Have fun.

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Old 04-21-2011, 03:40 PM   #5
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The roots basically grow 'downward' and rhizomes out and away from the crown, usually within the top 6 or so inches of the surface. The 'roots' that you see branching off of it, if they are white and fleshy and spaced between 4 and 6 inch intervals, are buds that have pushed out and will turn into shoots/vines. You may also see very fine threadlike roots coming off of the rhizome - if that's what it is. If this is the case, follow it back to the crown and you can lop it off, cut it between each set of buds and plant each section. These should grow if it is a rhizome. Most of the rhizomes you buy commercially don't have buds sprouting because they can get out to dig them before they break dormancy.

This is not what I have observed. In general, I have not seen deep root formation. The entire plant is contained within the top 6-10 inches of soil. Roots will run out in every direction and the spider-web-like roots do not propagate the plant. These are just the nutrient and water gathering entities. Rhizomes, will not generally be a part of these longer structure. They typically form their own dedicated off-shoot that extends some short distance, surfaces, buds, and tries to grow from there. I suppose after years of no root pruning, you may get rhizomes forming a decent distance from the crown, but I have not seen it with pruning on a 2-3 year basis...
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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Sweet, so I can hack at anything growing "out and away" with impunity then? While I'd love to plant hundreds of these things, I don't have the room...
Unless you are seeing buds/rhizomes, you are just setting back the plant in terms of nutrient and water gathering capabilities. You might also wait for a few weeks and see if they are coming up anywhere else and only dig those up and trim them back.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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This is not what I have observed. In general, I have not seen deep root formation. The entire plant is contained within the top 6-10 inches of soil. Roots will run out in every direction and the spider-web-like roots do not propagate the plant. These are just the nutrient and water gathering entities. Rhizomes, will not generally be a part of these longer structure. They typically form their own dedicated off-shoot that extends some short distance, surfaces, buds, and tries to grow from there. I suppose after years of no root pruning, you may get rhizomes forming a decent distance from the crown, but I have not seen it with pruning on a 2-3 year basis...
See, this is what I was worried about, as the big assed thing I pulled out does not look like a rhizome that I buy....I'll have to look at it closer tonight.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:58 PM   #8
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This picture is hard to see, wish I had taken some better hi res versions:

All of these off-shoots are normal roots. rhizomes also tend to be less woody and a bit softer/spongy (they will not snap apart like the root shoots, they will sort of shred instead), so you may be able to tell by trying to cut into them if you are still not sure.

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Old 04-21-2011, 04:07 PM   #9
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Yeah, what I pulled up definitely didn't look like that. It was soft, flexible, spongy white looking. Really reminded me the dreadlock tentacle things the aliens had in Independence Day (dorky, eh?) It's 1 cm thick, but extremely flexible, (bends over in half just from it's own weight). It basically feels as flexible as the bines are, if not more....

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Old 04-21-2011, 04:10 PM   #10
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Yeah, what I pulled up definitely didn't look like that. It was soft, flexible, spongy white looking. Really reminded me the dreadlock tentacle things the aliens had in Independence Day (dorky, eh?) It's 1 cm thick, but extremely flexible, (bends over in half just from it's own weight). It basically feels as flexible as the bines are, if not more....
That sounds like a rhizome, even if you don't find bud sites on the section you examined, there could me more downstream.
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