By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
There is a lot of information available about how to remove and kill suckers but very little about how to actually preserve them, leading many people to ask, “Can you grow trees from sucker plants?” The answer is a resounding, yes. Keep reading to learn how to grow trees from suckers.
You can grow trees from sucker plants, which are just baby trees that grow from horizontal roots of the parent plant. They will grow to maturity if given the right conditions. If you have other places in your landscape where you would like a tree or perhaps a friend would like one, consider preserving your suckers.
How to Grow Trees from Suckers
The first step in sucker tree growing is to remove the sucker plant as carefully as possible from the ground. This is sometimes a difficult task due to the sucker’s proximity to the trunk or other vegetation.
Use a sharp, clean hand shovel to dig around the sucker. Check to see if the sucker plant has its own root system. If the plant does have a root system, you are in luck. Simply dig the plant out of the ground and cut it free from the parent plant. This is a highly non-invasive procedure that causes no harm to the parent plant.
If the sucker does not have its own root system, which happens, scrape some of the bark, under the soil line, away with a clean utility knife. Cover the wound with soil and check each month for root growth. Once roots have established, you can follow the steps above to remove your sucker plant.
Care of Sucker Tree Shoots
Place the new plant in a pot with plenty of light organic-rich soil and provide water. Water the sucker plant daily until you see new growth forming.
To take care of sucker tree shoots, it is necessary to provide plenty of time in a pot before transplanting out in the landscape or garden. Wait until you see ample new growth before moving the sucker to the ground.
Provide moisture and a light layer of compost and mulch to retain moisture and provide nutrients to the new tree.
Planting a Tree Shoot Once Established
The best time to dig up and plant tree suckers in the fall. This will give the plant time to adjust before colder temperatures. Choose an appropriate location for the tree based on its growing habit and sunlight requirements.
Dig a hole that is a little larger than the pot you have the tree in and slightly wider as well. Try to retain as much soil around the roots as possible when transplanting.
It is best to protect the tree with a small fence or ring of bricks so that you do not forget where it is. Provide daily drinks until the newly planted tree becomes established.