Bring A Tree Back To Life: How To Regrow A Tree From A Stump

Tree Regrowing From A Stump
(Image credit: santol)

When your favorite garden tree finally collapses, it’s not necessarily the end of the line. If you wait a while, you may see the tree trying to grow back.

Can a tree grow from a stump? It’s entirely possible to regrow certain species of trees from a trunk. Read on to learn the best way to grow back tree stumps into trees.

Regrow Tree from Stump

If you walk through a forest, you’ll see many a tree sprouting from stump tops. Nature often works hard at regrowing felled trees, whether the gardener is in agreement or not. That’s because stump sprouting is a natural way that fallen trees regenerate, allowing a stand of trees to make a comeback after a forest fire or even deer browsing kills young trees.

How does this happen when the stump has neither branches nor leaves? The tree’s roots have stored up some of the energy the tree created during photosynthesis and, when the upper part of the tree falls, that energy is directed into new growth from the stump.

Grow Back Tree Stump

Can a tree grow back from a stump? Many types of trees can and do grow back. But not all. Trees that grow rapidly are the ones most likely to grow shoots that can turn into trees. A few species known for this ability include willow trees, European chestnuts, poplars, cottonwoods, and elm

Slow growing trees like oak, maple and cypress, as well as most conifers, do not sprout as well from trunks. That means that it is very difficult to regrow one of these trees from the trunk.

Best Way to Grow a Tree Stump

If you are wondering how to grow a tree from a stump, the first step is patience. Stand back and see if the stump sprouts. When it does, there are likely to be more than a few sprouts. If you want a bush, let all of the shoots grow and trim them when they get to the size you want.

If you hope for another full-size tree, you will need to pick the best shoots and remove the others. Select one or two of the tallest shoots that are growing from the ground near the stump, not those growing from the stump. Those sprouting up directly from the stump may not develop a strong enough foundation to become a large tree. Keep cutting back all other shoots until they stop growing. 

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.