New Shoots Around the Base of Trees

Question:

I've read about new shoots coming up around the base of trees, (i.e. Dogwoods), but, what about the shoots that come up around the base/ lower trunk of my Cherry tree and Crepe Myrtles? The bases of these trees are approximately 8-12" in diameter. Do I lope them off? Is it possible to transplant these "sprouts?" If so, how?

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Hardiness Zone: 7b

Bekkicat from Charlotte

Answer:

Bekkicat, The little shoots you are referring to are called suckers or water sprouts. On crape myrtles, these usually develop along the lower portions of the main stems or are sent up by the roots and appear as volunteers around the base of the tree. Most people like to remove the suckers to maintain the tree's overall growth shape. There are a couple of ways to do this that will prevent the sprouts from reappearing. One way is to remove the soil around the suckers and cut them off as close as possible to where they meet the main root. A second way, one that is often used by professional landscapers, is to prune them close to the ground and then apply a synthetic plant growth inhibitor called NAA (naphthalene acetic acid) to the suckers to keep them from re-sprouting. Be warned that if you simply prune them to the ground without taking additional action keep them from re-sprouting, the tree may think you are trying to "pinch it back" and respond by sending up twice as many shoots.

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If you want to try and root the suckers, clip them off to a length of about 6". Strip the leaves from the lower 1/3 of the stems and dip the stripped ends into a rooting hormone. Use a pencil to make holes in the soil and stick them into the ground right up to the first leaf. (If planting in pots, one 10" pot will hold about 5 cuttings). Water them well and put them in the shade. You'll need to keep your cuttings moist if you want them to root, so I would recommend covering them with a 2-liter bottle (just cut the bottom off), which will keep them nice and humid. In about 6 to 8 weeks they should have roots.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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July 21, 20060 found this helpful

Do not, I repeat, do not cut them off. They will only regrow from around and where you cut them off. You need to go to the base of the tree and rip them out. It is the only way. There is something called a tree weeder you can google. These are tremendous helps and really saves the body much wear and tear.

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