Sucker For Trees: Why Suckers Have Appeared On Your Tree

2 November 2022
 Categories: , Blog


If you have one or more trees on your property, seeing them bloom from spring onwards is satisfying. Blossoms and leaves are beautiful to look at, and they provide you with shade and temperature reduction. But there is one type of growth that you probably don't want to see: suckers. Suckers are small shoots that look like mini trees and grow straight up. 

Suckers tend to be weaker than typical branches or stems

In the tree care industry, professionals call suckers epicormic sprouts. All tree species have dormant buds that lie just below the surface. These buds are present on the roots, around the base of trees, and on tree branches. Tree care experts recommend pruning suckers because they take up valuable nutrients. Suckers are also more fragile than normal tree growths and are unattractive.

If you see suckers growing on or around your tree, this may be happening for several reasons.

Various types of stress cause trees to produce suckers

One common type of sucker, which tree experts call water sprouts, grows around the base of trees or on the branches. These suckers grow when a tree is under stress. Trees may become stressed when:

  • Disease strikes
  • Pests invade
  • Drought hits
  • Storm damage occurs
  • The soil is compacted

If a tree suffers any of the issues on this list or something similar, it produces suckers as a means of survival. For instance, if part of a tree becomes diseased and begins to die, the tree will produce suckers on its healthy branches. Suckers grow quickly because they need to produce food through photosynthesis to help stressed trees survive.

Suckers grow from grafted fruit trees

Many fruit trees are grafted onto strong and reliable rootstock. Tree professionals graft fruit trees onto rootstock that has strong roots and is more reliable for growing healthy fruit trees. Unfortunately, the roots of the original tree, which is of a tree species different from the grafted fruit tree, sometimes produce suckers. These suckers are the root systems attempt to reproduce.

If you allow these suckers to grow from the roots of your fruit trees, your fruit trees will produce smaller yields. You may also end up with a garden full of unwanted trees.

Hire an arborist to inspect your trees and prune the suckers

Not all suckers need to be pruned. But you first need to identify why the suckers or water sprouts are growing. An arborist can help you to do that by inspecting your tree for you. If your tree is stressed, the arborist can determine why and then help your tree by providing the necessary tree care. An arborist can also prune suckers without harming your tree's health or appearance.

Contact a tree trimming service to learn more.