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I bought a new tree this summer. Lately I've been seeing this little sprouts coming out of the very base of the tree. Should I chop them off or leave them? What will happen to them over time?

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Also, the guys who installed the tree used this stick with ties on it. When should I remove the supporting stick?

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  • What tree is it, I mean the name of the plant, trying to work out if that's a sucker at the bottom or whether this tree isn't even grafted, though it looks suspiciously like it is. The name would help... – Bamboo Oct 4 '14 at 15:56
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Do not cut the suckers or you will just get more of them. Instead hold it at the base and pull down and get the whole thing. If the suckers are coming from under the ground dig around it and then pull the sucker out. Buy cutting them you leave a node for others to grow. The suckers weaken the tree. It's possible to root the suckers and start a new tree. As for the stake you should not leave it there more than 6 months. Like children, if you do the work for them they don't learn to do it for themselves. Staked trees will not put down deep roots. Shake a young tree gently from time to time. The simulation of wind will tell the tree it needs to put down deeper roots. If you have a deep root watering stick use it to water below the root ball. The roots will have to go down to reach the water. If you don't have one make sure you water deeply and then let the top dry out before you water again. The roots will go where the water is. The first few years will make the difference between a well rooted healthy tree and an unhealthy one. After 3 years it's to late to train it.

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    BTW. That is a pretty flimsy stake but it looks like it might be tied to tight. Don't let it choke the tree. The best way to stake a tree would be to put two stakes opposite the tree and secure it from both directions so it won't blow down in a storm. After you have trained the roots your safe to remove them. – Rhonda Anne Oct 4 '14 at 16:03
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    Staking is only there to prevent wind damage. You want reasonable movement as the trunk strengthens by growing girth in reaction to the swaying forces. Too well supported and it remains spindly and puts the growth into height. Suckers always need to be properly removed so the tree above the graft isn't sapped of energy. – Fiasco Labs Oct 4 '14 at 19:41
  • I know it's too late at this point, but just an FYI for anyone with a staked tree, I lost a weeping willow to A) Deer and B) the weak trunk flopping over. So when I replaced it, I put three stakes in ground, sticking up about 4'. I put plastic fencing around it for the deer. I then tied a string from each stake to the tree. I had a branch crotch at the right height, so I made no slip loops. That way I didn't have to worry about loosening them. I made the length so the tree could sway ~6" before being stopped. The tree is much stronger now. I may give it more slack this year. – Dalton Mar 17 '16 at 14:10
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Whether the tree is grafted or not, I'd remove the suckers. On a grafted tree, they will drain the energy from the scion and form a multi trunked rootstock tree. If not grafted, the suckers will form new trunks, and the tree will lose it's 'natural' single-stemmed appearance.

If the suckers are emerging from the trunk above the soil line, cut them off as close as possible. If they are emerging from the ground, dig under and try to find the bases. Cut them off as low as you can without damaging the root system.

As for the stake on your tree, I'd remove that. It looks like the ties are getting tight, and that stick isn't really capable of helping the tree anyway. Refer to this answer for info on how to stake your tree.

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The answer really depends upon the type of tree. Some trees sucker on the bottom, and it's not a problem. Some are grafted, and if they sucker on the bottom, it's likely the root stock suckering (this should be trimmed off).

It also depends on your location. In really hot areas, suckering can be the plant's way to shade itself from the heat. Eliminating the shade could cause the stem to burn.

As for the stake, to properly plant a sapling, if the plant is too flimsy to support itself, you should have three stakes forming a triangle. This allows the plant to move within a narrow area. Movement is required for the plant to build up good strength. If you leave it staked like that, there is no flexing, and the plant is weaker than if it is allowed to bend.

Just make sure the amount of motion allowed does not cause the roots to move around, or they won't get established. Speaking of the roots, you should always spread out the roots and inspect for girdling roots when planting a tree from a pot. Circling roots is very common in potted trees, and if not corrected, your tree is very likely to have stunted growth or even die from strangling itself.

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