If you see new growths bursting up around the main trunk of your tree, this means your tree is struggling to survive in a stressful situation by producing suckers. You might discover suckers during times of drought, or when your tree is planted in a less-than-ideal location (such as when it is flanked by concrete). No matter the cause, you probably want to know what to do about suckers.
First, just know that the issue with suckers is primarily a cosmetic one, but they are also a warning sign. It’s a good idea to remedy the cause of the problem if you can, since suckers are a sign of stress on the tree. So, if you suspect drought as the cause, watering your tree more often can stop the tree from behaving this way. Of course, if your tree is simply planted in a poor location, all you can do is manage the suckers.
Occasionally, a tree will begin to put out suckers because it is stressed from over pruning. If your tree is getting enough moisture and isn’t planted in a poor location, then you might have over pruned it previously. Take note of this, and don’t be so aggressive next time.
It is important to remove suckers as soon as they appear. Doing so will prevent them from sapping more of the tree’s energy. But you want to remove them correctly, or else they will simply reappear almost immediately.
Using sharp pruning shears or billhook saw, cut the suckers as close to the base of the tree as you can get (but without cutting into the tree itself). Use a pulling action on the suckers to remove as much as possible. If you can remove the nodes from which the suckers originate, this is even better, because it will stop them from returning.
If the suckers originate from under the soil, first try to simply pull them up. If they separate easily, you can probably pull them up along with the nodes. For more stubborn suckers, you might need to loosen the soil around them first. Be careful with digging into the soil; you don’t want to damage the roots of your tree.
If you have questions about your tree’s care, give us a call. We can help you to troubleshoot problems within your landscape and offer practical, long-term solutions to keep your yard and trees healthy.