Root-pruning? ? ?

My friend has a potted plant -- she doesn't know the name but says it's more like a shrub than a plant -- which seems to be doing poorly.
I thought it might be root-bound in a too-small container.
What are the best steps to removing the plant, pruning the roots, and replanting it?
Also, will pruning from the top tend to keep the rootball smaller?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Basics: http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesArticle/id-457.html
Just my opinion, but if someone hasn't got the skills to find a library book with pictures and identify a plant, they don't have the skills for root pruning. Keep it simple for now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray wrote:

Since the plant is in a pot, maybe your friend could take it to a nursery for identification.
If it's herbacious (not woody), try taking a cutting from a shoot. If the cutting succeeds, use it to replace the "parent" plant, which can then be discarded.
If it's woody and the pot is less than 12 inches in diameter, repot in a larger pot. If it's woody and the pot is at least 12 inches, remove the plant from the pot. Use a sharp paring knife to shave about 1/2 to 1 inch of soil and roots all the way around and at the bottom. Place back into the pot with fresh potting mix to replace what was removed. For potting mix, see my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . Trim the top to reduce the demand on the taumatized roots.
In any case, trimming the top will NOT reduce the growth of roots. It will reduce the demand on constrained roots to supply moisture and nutrients to the foliage. Eventually, however, the plant will need to be root-pruned, repotted in a larger pot, or replaced.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Keep it simple! Buy a bigger pot, remove the plant from the old one, tease out ( gently ) any roots which have started growing back into the mass, get some fresh compost in the new pot,put the plant in and water well. After a check in growth to start with it should recover well if the environment is right.
Root pruning is not a good idea - you end up with all the short fat roots, and the fine hair-like roots which you chop off are the ones which process the water and nutrients most efficiently.
Take a couple of cuttings as an insurance policy.
Regards from UK Malcolm
David E. Ross wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.