Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: Hilliard, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Trees
Title: Eliminating suckers from roots of Moraine locust in Hilliard, OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We removed a large Moraine Locust tree and also the stump. Now little trees from the roots are coming up. How do we get rid of these so something else can be planted?

ANSWER:

Moraine locust is apparently a patented selected cultivar of Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust). The cultivar lacks the thorns that are so vicious on the original plant, have smaller seed pods and therefore less mess on the ground. They are susceptible to several pests and diseases and can become a weed problem and invasive. Obviously, you already know that since you have had it cut down. Now to get rid of the suckers that are still coming up. They are the plant's last-ditch struggle to survive, which is every organism's primary purpose.  Those "little trees" coming off the roots are, in effect, branches the roots are putting out to get some leaves growing to manufacture food for the roots through photosynthesis. The roots are a storage area for nutrients and will continue to try to stay alive. Of course, you want to nip off those suckiers as soon as they stick their heads up. Eventually, if you got them all, the roots would starve, but this could take a while. 

So, take the battle to the root. Get a bottle of wide-spectrum herbicide and some disposable foam paintbrushes. Dig down to where you can get at the main root. Cut off a slice of that root, exposing a fresh surface. Quickly, within five minutes, before the tree can begin to heal itself, paint the raw surface with the herbicide. This should go down into the circulatory system of the root and begin to kill it. This will also take a while, depending on how much root there is. If you are really determined, you could dig down and locate some more roots going out from the main stump and treat them the same way. Be very careful with the herbicide, avoid spilling it on the ground and contaminating the soil, and don't use spray. A spray could easily stray onto another, more valuable plant, and cause more damage than you intended. Hopefully, this will stop the development of the suckers and permit you to begin planting in the fall. We would also suggest that you remove as much of the root from the ground as possible, and then work some compost into the bed before starting to put in new plants. 

 

More Trees Questions

Fast-growing "climbing" tree.
February 12, 2009 - I live in Northern Virginia. My children would love for me to plant a "climbing" tree - short trunk, nice spread of limbs. Can you recommend a tree that could grow to meet this requirement in abou...
view the full question and answer

Wilting American Smoke Tree in Texas
April 21, 2013 - I planted a young American smoke tree last fall (mid-November) and it put out a good show of tentative new leaves this spring. Then to keep the tree form I clipped some little shrubby start ups at the...
view the full question and answer

Smoketree not flowering in Beverly Hills CA
June 29, 2011 - Why is my Smoke tree not flowering? It is big and the leaves are beautiful but no blooms.
view the full question and answer

Cedar Elm trees for Rockport, TX
January 08, 2010 - Cedar Elm trees for the Gulf Coast area? I live alongside a fresh water lake with sandy soil that is 2 miles from the bays. Along the shoreline, I'd like to replace a Weeping Willow that is in decl...
view the full question and answer

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
view the full question and answer

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