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Mr. Smarty Plants - Will Cedar Elm seedlings resprout from the root?

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Friday - November 20, 2009

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Will Cedar Elm seedlings resprout from the root?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a number of cedar elm saplings coming up in a garden bed which I am planning on replanting. It is very difficult to remove the entire taproot below about 1.5 feet as I encounter rocks and heavy clay. What are the chances that these will resprout and come up through my new plants if I don't remove the entire root? Thanks, Ryan

ANSWER:

If the elm plants are seedlings, there is little chance of one resprouting as long as you cut the roots well below the soil surface.  Just start your spade a couple inches from the base of the seedling and cut the root a few inches from below the soil surface.

However, if the sprouts are from the root of an existing tree then that is another kettle of elms altogether.  Texas Cedar Elms and some other species (most notably, Escarpment Live Oaks) like to form clonal colonies (called motts or mottes in Texas) via root sprouts. Removing these root sprouts is often a temporary fix since the parent tree will usually just produce more sprouts in the following years.  Some individual trees seem to be more prone to producing root sprouts than others.

 

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