How can you tell the difference between sucker branches ?

palmmandanJune 25, 2009

Is there a way to tell the difference between normal and sucker branches on a meyer lemon tree?

Anyone have pics?

I hear the leaves look different.

Where will a sucker branch start from?

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Meyer lemons are all grafted trees, meaning they don't grow on their own roots, but the roots of a different tree.

In this case a "sucker" is any branch growing below the graft line on the trunk. It just means that the branch that is growing is not a Meyer Lemon branch, but a branch from the root stock (a different tree).

In most cases you can spot the graft line if you look closely. If your tree hasn't suckered yet it will be below the lowest branches.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Sucker branches are usually thorny, having more thorns then the the ones that will produce the fruit you want. Some graft lines are difficult to spot and identify. Suckers grow very quickly and is easy to spot. Sooner or later they will take over killing the desireable fruiting branches...that is if they are not pruned off.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 5:09PM
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Would you say the leaves are a different size and more greener? I have some branches growing out the top of the tree they have large leaves and big thorns. This plant was purchased at the fort meyers gift shop. Was in a small box and was 8 inches long 4 years ago. . I have two stumps coming out of the soil.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 8:24PM
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Ah, that sounds like a sucker, however it should not be growing from the top of the tree. Try to find out where the branch starts from. It may be best to cut them off before they take over the tree...Two Stumps??

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 9:06PM
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I don't understand the grafting and root stock thing. Are you saying the sucker is not a lemon tree?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:02PM
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Ok, the sucker is not a lemon tree, it is a branch from the root stock. A root stock is the bottom half of a tree, with the roots. Generally, trees are grafted onto root stocks for disease resistance, cold hardiness, and dwarfing. The root stock and scion are from diffrent plants. A Scion is a branch that is taken from a tree (For ex: a meyer lemon tree). the scion is then grafted onto the root stock to make the tree more resistant. So now you have a tree you usually see in nurseries. A sucker is a growth from the root stock, which grows fast. it can take over and kill the scion (meyer lemon). I hope this helps..I enclosed a link to four winds growers so you can see some pictures..

Here is a link that might be useful: Four Winds growers

1 Like    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 12:31AM
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Well I may have a problem. I have 2 stumps coming from the soil. You think one was a sucker when it was a sapling. I don't know what to do with this tree. I just pruned some of the tall branches. These branches have bigger leaves and one inch thorns. And they grow fast. These branches come from the top of the bush.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 6:26AM
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I dont that the two stumps should be a problem, but i suggest that you cut off the branches with the big leaves and thorns at the base where they began their growth, however I am unsure if it is a sucker coming from the top of the tree...I know that there are some branches that grow rapidly from the tree, but ther leaves were similar to the original. These rapid growing branches sometimes produce slightly different flavor or color fruits. The Cara Cara Navel Orange was the outcome of one of these branches. The branches on your tree could be one of these, but highly believe that it is not..

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:25AM
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If you have two trunks arising from the soil line it is virtually certain that one of the two (possibly both) are suckers, that is to say growth from the root stock and not the meyer scion.

Your mission now is to identify the trunk with the graft line. It may be difficult to spot, but once you find it it should be fairly obvious as it will be a line all the way around the trunk.

The other one should be pruned off at or below the soil line.

Unless there is such a thing as Meyer Lemons growing from their own root stock (are there?), two trunks from the soil is impossible unless at least one is a sucker.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 3:10PM
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Are any commercial meyer lemon plants grown from seeds?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 5:11PM
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Having two stumps should not be a problem. The stumps should be from the root stock considering that graft lines are usually 4-8 inches above the soil line so I would say that anything growing above 8 inches would not be a sucker. I reccently went and looked at my container citrus and yes I have similar growth to those that you've described. Most if not all citrus trees purchased from nurseries are grafted. The problem with growing citrus trees from seeds is that they may not be true to type..For example if you took a seed from a meyer lemon, there is no guarantee that that seed will produce meyer lemons, the fruit would be a cross between a meyer lemon and the another citrus that pollinated it. Commercial citrus trees are not grown from seeds. growing citrus from seeds could take anywhere from 7-13 years before they fruit. That would be both a waste of time and money for growers

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 6:49PM
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Thanks for your help. Looking at the soil and 8 inches up there are no suckers on there.

I do have 6 flowers right now on the tree. I chopped off the 3 branches that were growing 2 feet above the bush. Will see what happens.

This tree is kind of my pride. Bought in the airport gift shop in Fort Meyers.
My fiancé told me I would never get it to grow in Michigan.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 9:02AM
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Meyer lemons are often rooted from cuttings and do very well on their own roots. More than likely that is what you have and all branches will produce good fruit.

If the suckers coming up from the soil do not have trifoliate leaves I would say you have a rooted cutting.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 10:10AM
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I have the same question. I have some newly formed branches on my Meyer lemon also and they grow super fast, are greener, have thorns, and are on the top. Not sure if they're suckers... don't want to butcher my "babies" unnecessarily. I'm 99% sure this first pic is a sucker, right? I don't see this 'graft line' you guys have mentioned. These are the first plants I've kept alive and I've had them for three years. How about pics 2&3?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 7:10PM
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Pic 2. Sorry no pic 3.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 7:14PM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)


Everything you see with three leaves is rootstock, and should be removed!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 8:29PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

There must be two graft lines on any meyer lemon on poncirus trifoliata because the meyer lemon scion poisons the trifoliata root stock. To get around this a citrus is grafted to the trifoliata the the meyer lemon is grafted to the citrus tig and the poisoning does not happen. You also have to be sure that the interim citrus is also free of sucker. Its leaves will not be so different from the meyer lemon. below is a picture of my meiwa kumquat tree from seed. Its leaves are more like the meyer lemon but it is not a meyer lemon

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:54PM
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