Location: Ontario, Canada. zone 5 continental cold temperate
posted 3 years ago
I have no real knowledge of Bay Trees but from googling, I found this excellent link from the UK. Read especially the paragraph entitled "BAY TREE CARE", which seems to be all about this topic exactly!
Hope it helps!
zone 5 continental cold temperate
I have a few trees here (Sweet Gum, Cherry Laurel, others) that do a similar thing where any time the roots get exposed they will form new trees. The problem with trying to separate them is taking off a small section of the root along with the new growth. If you take off too little it will kill the small tree and if you take off too much you could end up killing the big tree.
You could check the growths near the outer edge to see how much root extends beyond that point. If you poke around a bit and find that the root isn't terribly big beyond that point then you could cut it off (sever the root between the parent tree and the new growth) and replant it. If it is a larger root that is root bound and unable to pull out without ripping or cutting the other end then it probably isn't worth the risk. The other growths not near the edge will become problematic and I would just cut them flush with the soil.
Another approach would be to put the whole tree in a bigger pot. Allow it to root out into the new soil and take cuttings from there. My understanding is that where a tree is significantly pruned (by human or nature), it doesn't need as much root system to survive. I'm guessing since it is in a pot that it is well pruned. I would keep it well watered in a bigger pot, wait until it needs to be pruned again, prune it and give it a few days to recover. Then you can poke around at the roots on the edges and find a good candidate to cut off from the main tree. Once the new tree is potted up, I would remove all but the top few leaves and keep it in the shade for a couple weeks or until it shows signs of new growth.
I would do this, not by poking around and digging, but by taking the entire plant out of the pot and slicing off with a big knife, a section of roots with sucker attached. that way the disruption is minimised to both the big and little tree. Then put the big tree back in the pot with a good compost mix in the empty section and it should be fine. I might wait another month or so until the tree is growing quite strongly, being an evergreen.
Morning came much too soon and it brought along a friend named Margarita Hangover, and a tiny ad.