Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 06, 2014

From: Hattiesburg, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning Citrus Suckers
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previous question. And though I am a heavy duty gardener from NY to MS for many years, may I ask you how I would know where the graft site is on my trees? Just as you described, all the little seed balls are on shoots with leaves from the base. The only two real Satsumas are on a normal upper stem. The two trees are full with mostly shoots. Shall I cut them down? Assuming that shoots are like babies that will grow into adult stems is incorrect? Sometimes I do not cut the shoots wondering if they grow into adult stems. Last fall I cut them down and wondered if cutting caused the little seed balls. Without any problems, do you recommend routine pruning of the shoots? Regardless of rootstock, I guess what I really need to know how do I find the graft site? Thank you for clarifying what I never believed were bugs. Cold might have caused this, but usually I only worry about the lemon tree having no protection. The Satsuma leans against the house and is always protected until last year, I guess. I am grateful for your vast knowledge.

ANSWER:

Glad to see that the Satsuma problem diagnosis is correct and shoots (suckers) from the rootstock have sprouted up and are taking over the plant as well as producing inferior fruit. The graft on a citrus tree should be visible where the trunk swells or has a zigzag growth pattern where the nursery cut off the rootstock and let the Satsuma grow. 

If you can, try to prune out all the shoots coming from below the graft. These shoots probably have trifoliate (3 parted) leaves and thorns. Keep these shoots from the rootstock continually pruned out so that just the real Satsuma stems are allowed to grow.

 

 

More Pruning Questions

When should salvia greggii be pruned from Austin
December 12, 2013 - Should salvia greggii be pruned in fall/winter? I thought I read onsite that all woody perennials should be left untouched or pruned to 6 inches. Does this apply to salvia greggii?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Mountain Laurel in Dallas
May 04, 2010 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is about 3 years old. When I bought it 2 summers ago, it was about a foot high. Now it is over 6 feet. It seems to have grown so fast that the branches can't ke...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on perennials in Austin
December 10, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The recent hard freeze in Austin really took a toll on the plants I put in the ground in early October. The leaves of my salvia, lantana and esperanza are completely black! ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning guidance for Carolina buckthorn from Houston
October 23, 2012 - I have a Carolina Buckthorn in my back patio that I planted in fall 2001. The summer of 2003 the roofers dropped something off the back and broke the top 10-12 inches off. I have tried to train the la...
view the full question and answer

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