"Root-bound" is the condition of a plant
or tree that has outgrown its confinement. It can happen to the smallest
seedling in a pot or the largest tree in a back yard, as in their search
for nutrients, the roots will explore every nook and niche. Before planting,
It is common practice to make vertical cuts with a knife through this wall
of roots to encourage new outward root growth.
may follow the path of least resistance during normal growth, or follow
traces of nutrients when they are undernourished. Trees have been known
to lift sidewalks, totally clog steel pipes, and go through house foundations
in their quest for water and nutrients.
There is a similar condition
called "Girdling" where the roots encircle the lower tree trunk, and can
exert enough force to stop the normal flow of sap. The Strangler Fig Vine
routinely exercises this Girdling condition on its victims as it climbs
to the tops of trees for sunlight, where it creates its own canopy keeping sunlight from reaching lower vegetation.