Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

At what age does Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) begin to flower in Pflugerville, TX?
January 13, 2011 - At what age does a female possumhaw (Ilex decidua) usually bloom and set fruit? Or is there a way to identify the female other than by the presence of berries? I grew a number from seed and want to ...
view the full question and answer

Sophora seeds to give away
April 13, 2016 - When we moved to TX years ago we bought a mountain laurel so we could have the beautiful purple flowers and were disappointed when the flowers every year were white (with a few purple ones here and th...
view the full question and answer

Seeds to scatter from Austin
March 20, 2014 - Which seeds are good to throw and scatter on lawns or garden beds? Seeds that germinate easily, I suppose?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting bluebonnets in late Fall from Georgetown TX
November 08, 2013 - Transplanting bluebonnets in October? Neighbor wants to share abundance of rosettes and good size plants- any suggestions or warnings? Will freeze/frost protection be needed if we get December freeze...
view the full question and answer

Rooting desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) from a cutting
May 12, 2009 - I found a desert willow with great bloom color and I am trying to root a cutting. I have never tried to root a cutting but I have read that desert willow is easy to root. My first attempt was in a vas...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.