Tree Suckers & Water Sprouts (Epicormic Shoots)

What Are Tree Suckers and Water Sprouts?

Have you ever wondered what those twig-like sticks that come out from the base or the sides of the tree are?

Our guide will teach you everything you need to know about tree suckers and water sprouts.

Let’s start with the basics:

Suckers and water sprouts are terms used in horticulture which refer to new sprouts that grow vigorously from the roots or bud tissue in the branches and trunks.

You will find them growing on trees and shrubs in early spring, just before leaves start to appear.

This is due to the trees becoming active again unlike their dormant state in winter.

They are most prevalent in fruit trees and cause problems with some landscape trees as well.

Suckers and waterspouts can appear on any tree that has experienced stressful conditions, such as loss of a limb, severe pruning, or drought.

Continue reading …


What’s the Difference Between Tree Suckers & Water Sprouts?

Although both tree suckers and water sprouts have very similar characteristics, there is actually a slight difference between them.

The distinction can be made quite easily by looking at the position of the shoots i.e. either coming from the base or trunk and branches of a tree.

What Are Tree Suckers?

The name “sucker” is given to shoots that arise from below the surface in the root system and can appear a couple of feet from the trunk.

They are basically a new propagation of a tree, growing from the base root level instead of aseed.

A sucker usually grows from below the ground level, but can also appear near the surface.

No matter where they come from, they are still an extension of the same root system.


Tree Suckers: What Are Water Sprouts?

Water sprout is the name given to shoots that arise from latent buds located on both the trunk and branches.

They are regrowth shoots and are weaker than natural growth. This makes them far more susceptible to pests and diseases.

The buds can be visible on the bark or located underneath the bark as epicormic buds and tend to grow straight out from the trunk, and up from the branches.

Water sprouts can sometimes be confused with suckers because they have similar characteristics.


Tree Suckers: How Are They Produced?

Both suckers and sprouts are produced in a similar way.

They are able to develop through any form of injury as well as stress to a tree, and tend to be generally linked to improper trimming from an earlier period.

Water sprouts are certainly likely to come up in response to trimming or injury to the tree, for instance limbs cracked away in thunder or wind storms.

These are unfavourable since the tissue inside a water sprouts aren’t as robust as regular twigs. In fruit trees, water sprout twigs typically develop a small amount, if any, fruit.

Suckers and water sprouts will often give hints to a tree’s wellness.

Both kinds of sprouts may well signify there is damage or dead wood over a higher level of the sprouts.

This is probably because a tree without a history of this sort of growing starts to distribute suckers as well as watersprouts.

They’re a compensatory system, an effort from the tree to locate vigour if it is not being supplied by additional plants.


What Trees & Shrubs Do They Grow On?

Suckers develop in the rootstock of the tree. In some instances, they will appear in a natural way and when a thicket is just what you desire, do encourage the plant to continually grow.

Forsythia, blackberry, raspberry, prairie rose along with chokeberry are only a number of types of plant life which prefer to sucker.

Additional “own root plants” that sucker is aspen, buckthorn, red osier dogwood, mahonia, black locust, honey locust and Amur maple.

It is possible to take out these suckers simply by chopping away on the place of origin as well as paring out on the adjoining tissues to get rid of any kind of dormant buds which are nearby.

When you simply pull these from the dirt by hand, you are going to activate close by buds into more growth.

By no means apply weed killers on suckers, because it is likely to be soaked up through the tree roots.

A number of naturally suckering types may well expand their range past the borders of a premises.

Ailanthus (tree of heaven) and Robinia (black locust) are called fence hoppers simply because they display this kind of quality.


What Are There Uses

They may be helpful for windbreaks and personal privacy barrier since they develop densely enough to get visually and physically dense.

Other places in which suckering bushes tend to be desirable in steep or even rugged slopes, wood lots and also transitional locations amongst the property or home and also a waterway or even a Green Acres sector.

Vigorous water sprouts are helpful as scions used in grafting.


Should They Be Removed?

They are vigorous vegetative growths and really should be extracted in many situations.

Boring as it can certainly be, take out every one of them, utilizing a sharpened pruner, chop near to the tree. You should not keep any stub.

By doing this you are going to assist a tree to be able to recover correctly.

The optimum time to achieve this will be springtime, but if you discover water sprouts later on from the growing period, take them out right away.

Bear in mind, before you decide to handle suckers or water sprouts, have a couple of minutes to file the edge on your pruner.

When you are able identify what is causing the stress, water shoots ought to be extracted promptly.

Unless you do this, they are going to increase quickly in quantity and volume, rerouting significant energy from your tree or shrub.

In addition, they will slow up the air flow and light circulating within the interior branches of the tree or shrub.

If left to develop on the branches, they’ll be considerably weaker and may become areas for damage, breakage or disease.

On grafted trees, like a lot of fruit trees, the sucker will certainly develop upward under the level of the graft.

When this happens, the new tree could have the features belonging to the root stock tree, not the grafted stock. These kinds of suckers ought to be taken out once they show up.

Specific types of trees usually pass on themselves via this kind of reproduction, and suckers will also be common on them.

Privet as well as hazel trees and shrubs tend to be a couple of this kind of varieties.

Suckers are considered intrusive and ought to be taken off. Left unmonitored, suckers can easily overtake your garden.

On grafted plant life for example fruit trees and roses, it really is crucial to eliminate suckers.

The suckers tend to be growing up from the rootstock under the graft joint which is often a different plant from the one which you bought.

It is sometimes hardier and even more vigorous and also, in features, much less attractive.

You could have to get rid of some dirt to discover the source of the sucker and you might need to do this once again in the event the sucker remerges.

It is necessary you don’t enable the suckers to remain a problem over a season.

On grafted plants such as fruit trees and roses, it is most important to remove suckers.

The suckers are arising from the rootstock below the graft union and this is a different plant from the one that you purchased.

It is often hardier and more vigorous and, in appearance, less desirable. You may have to remove some soil to find the origin of the sucker.

And you may have to do it again if the sucker remerges. It is important that you do not allow the suckers to persist for more than a season.


Article was written by Conner D.

Edited by Conner D on 01/07/2019.

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