We have one of those 5 in one apple trees and actually got a couple of apples off of it last year. It seems like we have more trees growing off of it.

There are some branch like things sprouting from the bottom of the tree or out of the dirt. From reading another question here, I think those might be non-fruiting suckers. Are they just where the tree is growing new trees off of it, because I'm told this type of tree does that?

If they are suckers what season should I clip them? Some places say wait until summer and some say cut as soon as possible. It's been rainy here and with El Niño no one knows whats going on. I'm in zone 8.

3 Answers 3


Take a close look. Usually the main graft of a fruit tree is a few inches above the ground. It will appear as a lump in the trunk.

In a multiple cultivar graft, it may be higher.

In any case, any branch coming from below the graft will be coming from the root stock. This will usually be either a special purpose root stock, or a crabapple. In either case it will be unlikely to produce edible fruit.

Clip them off as close to the trunk as possible.

Multiple cultivars are a balancing act: The vigor of different cultivars often makes one grow at the expense of others.

If this doesn't work, or is hard to manage look at getting several semi-dwarf root stock, and graft one scion of each cultivar to one root stock. Google 'tall spindle' apples on youtube for an alternate approach.


In zone 8 so I am not certain whether this is an issue for you, but if you are in an area where rabbit and rodent damage tends to be a problem, I'd recommend removing the suckers each year at the end of winter. Yes, they sap a little energy from the tree, but if your tree is younger they offer good protection against rodents. The rodents will chew through the suckers and leave the main trunk alone (since the bark is less mature on the suckers). I learned this trick from Sepp Holzer, a permaculture teacher, and it really does work in my experience.


They are "suckers", growing from the root stock. Remove them immediately. It is the rootstock trying to take over & is robbing your scions (fruiting grafts) of growth & nutrients. Here is a video on pruning suckers (specific for citrus, but same concept).

This post also contains a bit more information about sucker growth as well as other irregular tree growth.

As @Sherwood Botsford pointed out, you may have to do some judicious pruning on the rest of the tree to keep the different varieties balanced.

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