Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on June 8, 2016 by jo

Sorry, Suckers!

I hate suckers, don't you?  And I'm not talking about some guys that are easily duped.  I'm talking about plant suckers, those little shoots of growth that come up from the base of your trees, most notably your crabapples and many other woody ornamental plants.  They can also be the side shoots or underground runners that come up near the original plant.  If the suckers are coming up from the base of a plant that was grafted, they will turn out to be a completely different plant than the original, which I'm sure some of you have experienced.  Many plants are grafted onto the roots of a strong related species and if left unpruned, will totally take over the original plant.  This is not a good thing.

Suckers can also come up from a pruning cut, this happens a lot on fruit trees.  Usually the growth that comes from these cuts is weak and very fast growing.  It is a good idea to keep them nipped back.  They can also come up from a stump of a plant that has been removed.  Just because you cut the tree off at the ground doesn't mean the plant is going to die, it might come back with a vengeance!!!  It could sucker profusely and you will have many small plants to deal with rather than just one big one.  In this case, it is a good idea to paint the newly-cut surface with Round-up or a brush killer of some sort.

So what do you do for regular, run-of-the-mill suckers?

1) Trim them off whenever you see them or tear them out, which might remove some soil with them...this is OK.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT spray these with Round-up.  It will damage or kill your tree or shrub.  We wish it was that easy to get rid of them.

2) Use a growth-regulator such as Monterey's Sucker Stopper on them.  Prune them off and allow them to re-grow slightly (4-6" or so) and then give them a shot.  This stuff isn't cheap (around $45) but it will help keep them from recurring for about 3 months.

3) Let them grow and see what you get, it might be a more beautiful plant than was there before...just kiddin'.  Not gonna happen.

So, do NOT be sorry about pruning off those little suckers, they deserve it!

Off to hug my tree (which, BTW, doesn't have any suckers because I pruned them off) - Jodie

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