How to Get Rid of Suckers on Trees

Is your tree bushing out like a shrub? This isn’t a good sign, so you need to learn how to get rid of suckers on trees. In this post, G&V Tree Service, your reliable tree service company in Falls Church, explains how to accomplish this task. 

how to get rid of suckers on trees

Use Proper Pruning Techniques

If you know anything about tree care, you’ll know it’s best to remove troublesome components. The same is true of tree suckers.

Get some sharp shears and cleanly cut through each unwanted stem as close to their bases as possible. However, you must leave the collar intact so the tree can heal properly. Also, cut the shoots while they’re young and tender to minimize the damage to the bark. 

The caveat is that you should only do this for tree suckers growing from the base of the tree or those within easy reach. You can use loppers if necessary, but nothing longer. The minute you have to crane and try to balance a pole pruner, you risk doing more damage than good. 

If you need to get the ladder out, please call us, as it’s dangerous to juggle the tools and hold on. You’ll need to keep cutting the unwanted stems back and determine what caused them. When you know why the tree’s sending them out, you can prevent the suckers from growing permanently.

What Causes This Issue?

You may need to learn how to get rid of suckers on tees for one of the following reasons: 

  • Stress: It sounds strange, but the tree might send out extra branches because it’s in distress. Say, for example, you accidentally sever some roots. The tree reacts by growing new sprouts from its base. 
  • A Wound: Here, you’ll see water sprouts, especially with fruiting trees. These are the same shoots as before, but they grow at the site of the wound. It might be a bad pruning cut or a crack in the bark. 
  • Old Age: Learning how to get rid of suckers on trees is sometimes challenging because it’s a common sign of tree decline. As the plant ages, it may send out more shoots. 
  • A Failed Graft: Grafted trees are most at risk of developing this condition. This often happens when grafting a different species onto rootstock. The suckers come up from the roots, meaning the graft didn’t take properly. 
  • A Sign of Disease or Pest Infestation: A tree may adopt this approach when there’s a pest or disease interfering with how it transfers nutrients. The plant makes the decision to sacrifice the main trunk and start focusing on the shoots instead. 

Can You Prevent These Suckers from Forming? 

Looking after your tree properly is the best form of defense. If you can minimize the environmental stress, your tree may never feel like it must send out shoots. If you have a grafted tree, this holds especially true, although it’s harder to prevent the issue. 

Should You Leave Grafted Trees to Their Own Devices?

The answer depends on what your goal was in grafting the rootstock initially. If you want to provide a firm foundation for a different plant, you should prune the suckers carefully. If you don’t, you could end up with leaves or blossoms from both species. This might be an interesting experiment but will take its toll on the tree’s long-term health. 

Contact Us for the Right Advice

Now that you know how to get rid of suckers on trees, would you like a definitive answer as to why they started growing in the first place? Call G&V Tree Service at (703) 569-2570 to schedule a professional consultation, and let’s get to the bottom of the problem. We’ll help you deal with these issues and other common myths about trees