Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

Spend some time walking around in a forest and odds are good that you would see the root flares of most of the trees growing there. It is natural to find tree root flares in nature but not so much in landscapes. Nature knows how important the exposed root flares are for trees. Slowly, tree growers and gardeners are realizing just how important the root flares are to all trees.

The root flare of a tree is at the lowest part of the tree’s trunk, where the trunk transitions from trunk and bark tissues into root systems tissue. This swelling of the tree’s trunk, where the tree’s roots extend outward is referred to as a root flare.

Exposing a tree’s root flare is one of the healthiest things that can be done. It’s that important. A tree’s trunk is covered in bark; roots are not. A tree’s root flare is much more a part of the tree’s trunk and not the root system. The bark of a tree was made to grow above ground and the roots were meant to grow under the ground.

The trunk part of a tree needs to be exposed to air. Having a trees root flare buried in the ground hinders it from getting air. A buried root flare can often hide circling and girdling roots, which can slowly choke the tree and slow its growth.

Being underground can expose root flares to moisture which can lead to rotting. This underground tissue of a rotting trunk is a very important part of a tree’s life. Known as the phloem of a tree, it is responsible for distributing food, produced by the leaves, to all the roots and stems. As the rotting progresses the tree will slowly weaken from the lack of nutrients that would normally be supplied by the leaves. If the flare is not exposed, in time, the tree could die.

Exposing the root flare of a tree is essential to the health and long life of the tree. You might notice that the exposed root flares also add to the beauty of trees.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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