How to Stop Sucker Growth at the Bottom of a Tree

Written by megan shoop
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How to Stop Sucker Growth at the Bottom of a Tree
Keep trees healthy and strong by preventing sucker growth. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

During fast spring and summer growth, short, green, leafy projections may grow from the trunk and roots of a tree. These little branches are called suckers. They're not just unsightly, they're harmful to the tree. Suckers never form into full branches. They only sap nutrients and life from the rest of the tree, leading to lower flower and fruit production. Trees with lots of suckers also can become stressed, making them more susceptible to disease. Protect your trees by ridding them of suckers and treating them so they can't grow back.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Hand trowel
  • Sucker preventive spray
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake

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  1. 1

    Put on a pair of gardening gloves and grip each sucker as close to the base as possible. Rip the suckers out of the ground, roots or trunk. Removing them this way pulls out sucker buds as well as the visible parts, discouraging regrowth.

  2. 2

    Dig around stubborn ground suckers with a small hand trowel. Push the tip of the trowel down, in and under the larger suckers and pry upward to remove them. Crumble the soil away from the base of the sucker. Discard the sucker and buds.

  3. 3

    Spray the sucker wounds on the tree and the ground with a sucker preventive spray. These sprays are available at most gardening supply stores. Spray the wounds themselves and about 2 inches of area around them, per label instructions.

  4. 4

    Add about 2 inches of compost in a circle around the trees, dropping shovelfuls about 6 inches from the base of the tree and working outward. Compost helps tree roots feel "deeper" in the soil and makes them less likely to develop suckers.

  5. 5

    Rake the compost out to a neat, even layer with a garden rake. When it sinks into the soil, add another layer. This also gives trees extra nutrients.

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