A sucker, also known as a basal shoot, root sprout, adventitious shoot, or water sprout, is the growth originating from the root system of a plant. Below are some pictures of our ‘Arnold Promise’ witch hazel. You can clearly see the difference between the growth from the rootstock and the growth from the grafted ‘Arnold Promise’. If it weren’t for fall color, it would be difficult to distinguish which is which, but there are many differences between the two once you get a closer look. The size of the leaf, bud, internode, and texture of the stem all have subtle differences. If you notice suckers coming up next to your tree, you should make sure to prune them out. Get as low as you can to make the cut, which usually means scraping dirt away. Suckers can be vigorous growers and will outperform and stunt the growth of the desired, grafted species. As you can see from our example, if you let suckers go a few years, they will eventually dwarf the original plant. We went ahead and cut out the three suckers from this witch hazel and treated the wounds with a product called Sucker Stopper RTU. Sucker Stopper can be applied directly to small suckers or can be used to treat the wounds created from pruning them out. You will have better luck and a much cleaner look if you prune the suckers out first. Sucker Stopper is a temporary fix, as it is only effective for 3-4 months, but it sure beats having those suckers sprout again only days after you prune them!

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