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How to Cut Royal Poinciana Roots

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017

Royal poinciana is a deciduous flowering tropical tree prized for its beautiful red-orange booms. But this beauty can also be a pain if it is planted too close to sidewalks, driveways or other structures. Royal poinciana’s roots spread actively and often break through the surface to lift, crack or otherwise disturb them. But royal poinciana’s roots should only be cut if absolutely necessary. Cutting too many of this tree’s roots can upset its balance, or severely weaken it.

Dig around the problem root, if necessary, to expose the entire root.

Cut cleanly through the entire root, using a sharp ax, with as few strokes as possible. Cut through the entire circumference of the root, not just the above-ground portion. Leaving the root partially cut exposes the tree to infection.

Dig the severed end of the root out of the soil if necessary. Replace any soil you uncovered.

Water the tree, keeping the soil around the tree and the severed root moist for the next month while the root heals and develops a callus.


Things You Will Need

  • Ax


  • Late winter and early spring before the growing season is in full swing is the best time to prune the roots. Never prune roots after spring bud break. This will prevent the tree from accessing water during the time when it needs it the most.
  • Instead of pruning roots that are trip hazards, spread around 2 to 4 inches of mulch or potting soil around them (keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the trunk of the tree). Cover the roots, but do not bury them with more than 2 inches of soil or mulch. Or, plant ground cover around the roots of the trees.


  • Do not prune roots that are closer to the base of the tree than three times the diameter of the tree's trunk. Pruning in this area may cause the tree to fall over or die.
  • Do not remove more than 25 percent of the tree's roots at one time. If you must remove more than 25 percent of the tree's roots, wait at least two months between prunings.

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.