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?


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

Friday - June 28, 2013

From: waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Killing regrowing shoots of a downed hackberry tree
Answered by: Guy Thompson


Hackberry plants won't die. You and others have suggested to cut the suckers or saplings to get rid of them. Over the years I have continued to cut the same saplings and the only thing I have now are hackberry sapling root structures the size of a salad plate. I need to get rid of these things - they are all over the place.


As a last (and effective) resort, use a herbicide.  You must cut as many of the growing shoots as you can very close to the ground.  If there are lots of shoots, cut them in groups of six or eight.  Then, within five minutes at most, use a small brush to paint the cambium layer (or whole shoot if less than 0.5 inches in diameter) with CONCENTRATED Roundup herbicide (not the diluted form sold to spray on leafy vegetation).  The cambium layer is the ring of cells just beneath the bark.  It's functions include transporting nutrients made in the leaves by photosynthesis down into the stem and roots and transporting water from the roots up to the leaves. If the herbicide is not applied within a very few minutes after disrupting the cambium it will not be taken up effectively by the plant.  Then cut and treat another group of shoots and continue the routine until all shoots are treated.  If some of the saplings are as large as small trees you can simply girdle the trunk and apply herbicide in the cut opening.

Roundup concentrate can be obtained from some garden centers or hardware stores.  Roundup persists in nature for only a few days, but it is toxic to some animals while it lasts.  That is why you must carefully paint it on with a small brush rather than spraying over a larger area.  And do not use it within a few feet of a stream or pond because rain could carry it into the water, where it would kill aquatic organisms.  This is why we only recommend its usage in unusually stubborn cases.


More Trees Questions

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Southern Magnolia Damaged by Deer
April 16, 2015 - I have a young Southern Magnolia (about 6 feet tall) that was damaged by deer on the main trunk. The bottom 2 feet looks okay, but where they damaged it and tore branches off, and above that, the leav...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Trees for New Jersey
March 02, 2011 - My neighbor elevated a row of white pine between our houses at least 20 feet high leaving me with NO privacy and a row of ugly lollipops. What trees can I plant that will be fast growing and deer resi...
view the full question and answer

Cottonwood seed clogging air conditioner in Austin
June 06, 2010 - My husband and I recently moved into a rental house that has a very tall cottonwood tree in the backyard. It has been shedding its seeds all over our yard since the beginning of May and seems to still...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree for front yard in Fredricksburg, TX.
July 16, 2012 - I live in Fredericksburg, Tx. I have a large front yard, but only one huge pecan tree in the front yard that is probably 18 years old. It shades half the yard. I want to plant another shade tree for t...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center