Plum - roots growing above soil level

I planted bare root Mt Royal plum tree on Myro rootstock two years ago. When I planted it all the roots were bellow soil level at least 3 inches(it had roots pretty high on the rootstock though.) It was mulched over with 3 inches of wood chips. Today I notices a root growing right on top of the soil. I am sure that soil level is still the same, because I have concrete decorative border around and level is right to the top of it, same as it was 2 years ago. Also. looks like rootstock trunk is growing slower then scion - is it sign of trouble? What do I do with the roots? Do I need to add more soil? if yes, how much?

Non size reducing rootstock are usually planted right at the union- the rootstock is usually the most likely component to send out new roots but it can happen with any bark exposed to soil. The tree is just exploiting that airy, warm, rich soil and rotting mulch on top. It’s perfectly alright. Mulched plants usually send roots at least right near the surface with fine roots in the mulch- at least after it ages like yours.


So just adding fresh mulch should be sufficient?

I agree with Alan. So just adding fresh mulch will be all you need.


Thanks a lot, Alan and Fruitnut, it is so great to be assured when experts say “it’s OK” ! :slight_smile:

I think it’s a bad idea to put mulch right up against the tree. It’s probably the thing I hear most on garden shows. The volcano mulching is terrible for trees. Roots exposed also is a wonderful thing, They can at last breath. Most trees are buried too deep. Too much effort is used to secure enough oxygen for the roots, the trees stress their immune system and become vulnerable to fungal, bacterial and even insect infestations. If you want to kill your tree, bury it’s root deep!
The tree in the photo looks perfect, exactly what you want. You can add more mulch but keep it away from the base of the tree. Roots love air too! A misnomer that oxygen kills roots, no it redirects them actually.

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Yes Drew, I always keep mulch several inches from the trunk, the reason I didn’t see the root before was pansies flowers that grew there from late last fall to mid august when they dry out, but seeded first to start grow again in late fall. I know it is not the best to have anything growing bellow the trees, but it seems trees do not mind it much as well as pansies - they grow right on top of the mulch. I provide water regularly, and my dogs constantly fertilize around the trees(and I can’t help it :grin:). I found in some book that pansies are actually very good companion plants for grapes, so I planted them under the grapes and later they spread to all the trees.

If by chance more roots are exposed, just covering them with compost or even top soil will due. I mound my trees and roots often become exposed. I cover if needed. Many do not mound, dig a big hole, it settles and sinks even further into the ground. They cover it up to avoid a low spot, and soon the tree is in trouble. With mounding if the soil settles it is at least not below soil level. Even at soil level is fine too, so I only mound a foot or two, often settling to a foot or less above average soil level.
I have a dog too, he seems to rotate plants he prefers to fertilize. He has killed a couple too. Oh well.Not trees, but plants like raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, or currants, etc.

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I have to mound as well. Learned it hard way - lost plum tree that just started to produce on the same spot . My yard is light slop, and all water from the street was running through that spot. Because my whole yard is very poor fill, when I originally planted I didn’t know better and dug deep but not wide enough whole filed with good soil, so water just filled it to the top. After tree died, I brought several yards of loam and recreated low part of my yard by making large wide mounts for my future trees.
My dogs not allowed in the vegetable garden, but they taking good care for ALL the grass around trees has distinctive dead spots. They work on one spot for a while, enough to kill the grass, then move to another. Actually, pansies prevent them from fertilizing tree directly, they do not like them touching their bellies. Otherwise I think they would be capable of killing a young tree :cold_sweat: