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Saturday - June 20, 2009

From: Greenwood, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Redbud tree propagated from root sprouts in Greenwood IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our Red Bud tree broke down to ground level and before we dug up the root several new sprouts have started growing out of it and all around the perimeter(they are approx. 4" high). My question is, can we remove some of the sprouts to get a tree out of this and if so, what's the best way to do this? I thank you in advance for any help you can give me on this; I really love the Red Bud Tree.


We are sorry to hear about your Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), it is one of the loveliest (and earliest blooming) of the native trees. We went to our webpage on that plant and found these propagation instructions:

"Description: The simplest way to grow redbuds is to scarify seeds and plant outdoors in the fall. Cuttings are nearly impossible. Seedlings which may develop around mature trees are easily moved when very small.
Seed Collection: Harvest legumes when they turn brown and begin to dry. Early collection may minimize weevil damage. Collect large amounts to compensate for a high percentage of unsound seed. Air-dry seeds and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Scarify for 10-20 minutes in concentrated sulfuric acid, then stratify for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes"

Unfortunately, seedlings coming up beneath the tree and adventitious root sprouts ("suckers") are two different things. The seedlings have instructions in their seeds about making roots and starting to get nutrition from the soil. The adventitious sprouts have roots, all right, but it's the main tree root, itself. They are the root's fight for life. It is trying to get some more "branches" out to grow some leaves, get some sun and start performing photosynthesis to keep the roots alive. If you remove that sucker, you have removed it from its root. If you left the main root in the ground, it would eventually sprout more little trees from the suckers, but they wouldn't be strong and still would not be self-maintaining. You would get a thicket of spindly little redbuds, and nothing to replace the tree you lost.

If your tree did not have a chance to seed before it broke down, you probably don't have any viable seedlings to work with. Perhaps a friend can provide you with some seeds to plant as instructed in the Propagation Instructions; if you are in too big a hurry to wait for seedlings, wait until early fall to plant a new tree-this will give it time to get established  before the hard freezes of winter but protect it from the summer heat. 

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis



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