Suckers On Lemon Trees: What Are Tree Shoots At Base Of Lemon Tree

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Are you seeing small tree shoots at the base of your lemon tree or new strange looking branches growing low on the tree trunk? These are most likely lemon tree sucker growth. Continue reading to learn about suckers on lemon trees and how to go about removing lemon tree suckers.

Tree Shoots at Base of Lemon Tree

Lemon tree suckers can grow from the roots and will grow out of the base of the tree and sprout right from the ground around the tree. Sometimes, this lemon tree sucker growth can be caused by the tree being planted too shallow. Building up a bed of soil and mulch around the tree base can help if you suspect your tree is too shallow.


Other times new shoots may grow if the cambium layer under the bark has been nicked or cut. This can happen from mishaps with mowers, trimmers, shovels or trowels used in the root area, or animal damage. However, suckers are pretty common on fruit trees.

Lemon tree suckers can also grow from the trunk of the tree below the graft union. Most lemon trees are made from grafting fruit bearing branches to dwarf or more hardy resistant rootstock. The graft union in young trees is usually obvious as a diagonal scar; the bark on the root stock may look different from the fruit bearing tree. As the tree ages, the graft union may scar over and look like just a bump around the tree trunk.

Removing Lemon Tree Suckers

Any lemon tree sucker growth below the plant’s graft union should be removed. These shoots grow quickly and vigorously, stealing nutrients from the fruit tree. These suckers produce thornier branches and will not produce the same fruit as the grafted lemon tree. Their quick growth allows them to quickly take over the fruit tree, if ignored.

There are various fruit tree sucker stopping products you can buy at garden centers and hardware stores. However, lemon trees can be very sensitive to chemicals. Removing lemon tree suckers by hand is much better than trying products that may damage the fruit bearing tree.

If you’re lemon tree is sending out suckers from the roots around the tree, you may simply be able to control them by mowing.

Lemon tree sucker growth on the trunk of the tree should be snipped back to the branch collar with sharp, sterile pruners. There are two schools of thought for removing lemon tree suckers around the base of the tree. If necessary, you should dig down as far as you can to find the base of the sucker. Some arborists believe you should then snap off these suckers, not cut them off. Other arborists insist the suckers should only be cut off with sharp, sterile pruners or loppers. Whichever way you choose to do it, make sure to remove any suckers as soon as you spot them.

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