How to kill cherry tree suckers without killing tree?

blheron(7 and 8)March 15, 2014

We have a cherry tree that is a royal pain. The cherries are few to non-existent, but appear to be Royal Ann or Rainier(?). They are a yellow cherry with pink blush.

My husband refuses to get rid of it because he grew up with it and it used to produce. It came from his Mom's yard (from a large sucker) and she is now deceased. So, I have to live with it. Unfortunately it puts out *very* long roots and suckers form along them. They have covered a large area of my yard. The ones that pop up in the lawn we have been able to control by mowing, but some hide and by the time we discover them they are 1 to 3 feet tall. If I just dig down and cut them off they just put up new shoots.

My question is, is there anything I can use to keep these from sprouting? If they do, is there anything I can maybe spray them with that will kill them but not kill the main tree?

I really hate--*really* hate this tree! But I love my hubby :o).

Any help would be greatly appreciated. We actually have two of these trees in different locations--an ongoing battle.

Thanks :o)
Linda

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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Unless the parent tree was own root the sucker yours came from is the sweet cherry rootstock and not the named cultivar that was presumably grafted onto it. Either the rootstock seedling happens to be a yellow cherry as well or the whole parent tree, including the roots was the yellow cultivar.

Sweet cherry is actually a weed species in this region and suckers to form groves on local wooded hillsides, where it even overtakes and overtops the native red alder trees often present in quantity on the same sites. It also crosses with the much less exuberant, native bitter cherry to produce a nearly fruitless, intermediate hybrid called Puget cherry. Some ~tall examples of the latter are conspicuous when in bloom, on undeveloped land between I-5 and Lakeside School (near Seattle).

It is usual to have problems with suckering and bony surface roots with plantings of sweet cherries - perhaps all the more so when these are present as rootstocks for Japanese flowering cherries.

All you can do is uncover the bases of the suckers and saw them away. If there are horizontal runners that lead back to the original planting follow these back to the parent tree and saw them off at their points of origin, pull the rest up. You don't, of course want to saw off normal roots of the parent tree - just the ones that are suckering runners like aspen trees and running species of bamboos produce.

This post was edited by bboy on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 17:05

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 5:04PM
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blheron(7 and 8)

Thanks bboy. I can almost guarantee, knowing my husband's family history, that the original tree came from a pit left by a critter or bird, so most likely not grafted. Also the ones we have that have taken off are coming from underground yards away from the tree. The cherries on the original tree were very sweet, large, and tasty. I guess it's possible it was a grafted tree, but not likely. I've only seen a few green cherries on the ones we let grow (2) for the past 20 years.

I can believe it is invasive, it's a constant battle. I try to keep my yard with mostly Native plants and trees, but the only "berry/fruit" I have are a few Huckleberries and a flowering current (?). So far no wild cherry . Maybe that's why?

Thanks again, you always seem to have a good take on things :o)

Linda

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 6:10PM
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