Tree suckers are a nuisance for many homeowners and green thumbs. Also known as basal shoots, they consist of new shoots that emerge from the base of a tree’s trunk.
They are called “tree suckers” because they literally suck and consume valuable water and nutrients, restricting the main tree’s growth.
Once tree suckers begin growing, the tree will receive less water and fewer nutrients, resulting in increased stress and potentially death.
You can control tree suckers in your landscape, however, by following a few simple steps.
Don’t Harm the Tree’s Roots
When mowing your lawn and tending to your landscape, use caution not to harm the tree’s roots. Trees often grow suckers in response to root stress.
If you accidentally hit a tree’s exposed roots mowing the grass or tilling the soil, you may discover new suckers around the base of its trunk in the following weeks.
Thankfully, you can prevent this from happening by using caution not to strike or otherwise harm the tree’s roots.
Water Around the Tree’s Trunk
Some people believe that watering a tree will leave it susceptible to suckers, but this isn’t the case.
Watering a tree can actually deter suckers by encouraging healthy growth and development (of the tree, not the suckers). When trees are dehydrated, they’ll become stressed and, therefore, more likely to develop suckers.
To discourage suckers from growing on your trees, make sure they well-hydrated.
Prune New Tree Suckers
You won’t always be able to prevent tree suckers from emerging.
When you discover new suckers, though, you should prune them as soon as possible to keep them in check. The longer you wait to remove suckers, the more harm they’ll cause on the tree.
To remove tree suckers, use a pair of clean and sharp gardening shears.
You want to trim the suckers as close to the tree’s trunk as possible without cutting the trunk. Keep in mind that suckers may regrow, so you’ll need to check the tree in the following days and months.
Watch the Trunk When Grafting
If you’re planning on grafting a tree, you should closely monitor the trunk to ensure that no suckers emerge.
Of course, grafting involves splicing one tree’s roots onto the roots of another tree. When grafts fail, the over-stressed tree may sprout suckers.
But as previously mentioned, you can easily remove suckers by pruning them with a pair of gardening shears.
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