In transplanting a 6 foot saguaro the tap root was knocked off. In fact,
all the roots were knocked off. We were told to allow the "stub" to air
dry for a week then plant it deep - the crown one foot below ground
level. It's been my understanding that so much damage to the tap root of
any plant that has a tap root is essentially fatal, and that burying the
crown will ensure a slow death if the root damage doesn't, but this
landscaping "expert" assures us the cactus will eventually grow new
roots. He also said it should be apparent within 6 weeks if the cactus
isn't going to survive (appearance of shriveling), while my reading
indicates a saguaro's slow death can take up to five years. Would anyone
in the group have experience with this and care to offer a comment? A
saguaro of this size is outrageously expensive and I have a feeling the
landscaper is trying to pull a fast one on us.
"A tap root extends downward to more than 2 feet (60 cm). The rest of
the extensive root system is shallow, as is the case for most
succulents. Roots are rarely more than 4 inches (10 cm) deep and radiate
horizontally about as far from the plant as the plant is tall."
Is it not a true tap root?
I don't think so.
If a branch of saguaro breaks off and falls in an optimal location, it
will send out roots, none of which will be taproots. Given its natural
environment, this is rare. For nursery-grown saguaros, however, this is
how they are propagated (by cuttings).
For an herbaceous plant that normally has a taproot, cuttings will
generally not be successful unless you take cuttings of the root (e.g.,
horseradish). For a woody plant that normally has a taproot, cuttings
will often tend to produce a taproot.
Saguaros are actually herbaceous although a dead saguaro appears quite
woody when dry.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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