En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Propagation of blackberry from Williamsport PA
January 18, 2014 - I have been told that if you cut a branch off of a black berry bush and stick it in water for a few days, and then put it in the ground it will grow into another bush. Please tell me if this is true a...
view the full question and answer

Reseeding with Gulf cordgrass, Spartina spartinae
May 23, 2007 - Are the seeds of Spartina spartinae sterile? If not, when is the best time to harvest for replanting? We are involved in the restoration of the Bahia Grande section of the Laguna Atascosa National Wi...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a redbud in August from St. Louis MO
August 09, 2011 - I have a 4' tall redbud that needs to be transplanted before the end of August because of construction on our house. Can this be done without killing the tree? Can I take a cutting from the tree and ...
view the full question and answer

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

Time to plant echinacea seeds in Austin
March 28, 2010 - When should I plant echinacea seeds in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center