Blue Spruce Sucker

beccaplants(6a Northern NM)September 3, 2012

I have a healthy blue spruce about 5 years old and just discovered a large sucker growing about 6 inches from the trunk. Should I cut it off as far down as I can beneath the soil or even with the ground. It's about 1 inch in diameter and approx 2 feet tall. It is starting to protrude from the main tree branches, that's why I noticed it.

Thanks for any info.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

we really need a picture..

is it a named variety?? .. if so it might be part of the understock ... but i dont understand why it is coming from underground ...

conifers do not have what i call dormant buds [the ability to bud from the trunk].. nor the ability to sprout from the ground/roots .. like many trees do ...

otherwise i am stumped by your words alone

ken

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:19PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Is the sucker growing on the side of the main trunk or is it growing out of the ground 6 inches away from the trunk?

Dave

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:43PM
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wisconsitom

Could it be a layer rather than a sucker-a branch gets buried somehow, roots, and then grows as if a new plant? Never in all my born days heard of a spruce sucker.

+oM

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:48PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

If growing out of ground dig down and find its source. In any case it has to go. Cut it at its source.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:27AM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

Thanks for all the replies. I'll try to dig down and see if I can tell where it's coming from. Could be a branch that rooted. Is it ok to cut if off at this time of year or should I wait for colder weather? The variety is Picea pungens "glauca". For lack of a better word I called the "branch" a sucker not really knowing what it is. It's just odd growing up out of the ground (straight) and up through the lower branches. From what I can see (difficult to get under the lower branches) it has grown up on it's own about six inches away from the trunk, not attached to the trunk. I'll take a photo when it gets light out.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:16AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

my concern.. is that it was telephone poled in planting.. or when put in the pot ... and this is actually a low branch coming out of the ground

ken

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:16AM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

Ok I dug down and pretty sure it is a branch. Never would have thought to do that (thanks to the folks who recommended it) The location was awkward so hope the picture is clear. The branch does come out and then straight upward. There were quite a few gophers a couple of years ago and all of their tunnels caused the tree to "sink" down. Would that have caused a small branch to have rooted? Is it OK to cut now or should I wait till colder weather. If I can't reach the trunk can I cut it off to as far as I can reach it?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:53AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

looks to me.. like that spruce is planted nearly a foot too deep ... presuming there is another 6 or 8 inches of trunk below the lowest branch ...

crimminey ... i dont know what to do about that ...

removing the branch may end up being the least of your problems in the long run ...

what do the rest of you think???

ken

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

At 5 years old I would dig it back up this fall and replant it at correct height which is 2" above grad for root flare.

Otherwise tree will eventually die.

For now you can dig a swale around the tree digging down enough to expose the root flare for a temporary fix.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 1:35PM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

Thanks so much for the help. I have a swale around the tree because of the damage the gophers (gone now) did causing the tree to sink. When I did that the buried branch wasn't there so I suppose it sank even deeper since then. I pulled some more dirt out today and there was a large root very close to the surface on the other side so I may try and let it live it's life, maybe it'll make it! Or should I try and cut that branch off? I'm not too keen on digging it up.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 3:37PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Would you please show clearly the foliage of the buried branch and of the tree, separately.

Thanks,

Dax

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 8:16PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i still think you should give us a few shots f the whole.. before you start doing any cutting ...

reduce the berm at the trunk .. and then snap some pix..

there are ways to shorten a branch.. remove its verticality ... w/o full removal ... [perhaps a new word.. lol] ...

there is no hurry with the cutting part ... its a tree ... but i wouldnt dawdle too long on the soil reduction ... this fall for sure. ..

ken

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:19AM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

I took 3 more photos. I dug away another two inches or so, but, there are roots on the surface so didn't want to go further. I have to hold the branch out of the way so not sure this one any better. LOL The 2nd pic is the other side with a root heaving up! The last is of the whole tree. The three was planted correctly but the gophers did a job tunneling all over the place. They didn't bother the spruce roots that I can tell. Hope these help. Look like I can only upload one photo. So if they don't come up will send the others separately.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 1:14PM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

This is a root on the other side of the tree.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 1:16PM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

Here is the whole tree

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 1:18PM
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wisconsitom

Bottom line Becca, the tree looks pretty good. Maybe that "sucker" is indeed a branch. Maybe it bothers you. If so, cut it and be done with it. But I'd not mess overmuch with the tree. It seems to be doing well.

+oM

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:17PM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

That's what I'm thinking, just let it go. I don't like to see trees die, other than that it doesn't bother me just want to keep it as healthy as I can, would you cut the branch or let it go?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:32PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Tough one, Becca. The tree is planted too deep. It may overcome that malady and be fine, or live 20 years (more or less) and suddenly die. I'd be tempted to excavate around it this fall and see just what I have. Find out where all the roots are, as in are the ones at the soil surface coming from above or below this branch, stuff like that. If you leave it planted at that height (I'm not ruling that out), then the branch has to go because if it lives you'll have a double trunk and if it dies it will likely live long enough to leave a big hole.

tj

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:06PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

second pic .... a root with bark?????

what if she took everything off for the first foot ... and then went in there.. and reduced the grade ??? .. and perhaps found other branches that had been buried ..???

when its twice as big.. the branches will be back on the ground.. its called gravity.. so it doesnt bother me to lift it a bit.. so you can actually get in there ..

opinions???

ken

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:48PM
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wisconsitom

^ Well, admittedly, the tree is still of small enough size to be re-diggable, so I'm on the fence. It all comes down to how much you want to tussle with it Bec. Whether due to over-zealous gophers or being planted that way, somehow that tree is sitting too deep. For absolute best longterm results, it would indeed be best to dig it up carefully and get it set at the proper (shallower) depth.

Not sure if you know this or not so I'll just say it; Trees should be planted such that their root flare is at or just slightly above finish grade. Again, maybe you've got that covered, but for a good idea of what we preach, look at naturally-grown trees in the woods. That's what you're after.

+oM

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey .. for $55.. just go buy another.. plant it 20 or 30 feet away.. [get a named variety, mail order]

and if this one fails..

you are all set with the other ...

or after #2 gets going.. cut this one for a real cool xmas tree ..

below is a pic of a 'Hoopsi' .... one foot ... one gallon.. $25 plant.. 10 years back ...

ken

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:48PM
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beccaplants(6a Northern NM)

Hey that sounds like a good idea!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:03AM
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