My oak appears to be dormant. I am in Cape Town, its winter and around 6- 14°C overnight.

My oak tree sprouted 8 suckers and they are growing strong. Why would the tree not sprout from the trunk or branches (buds are not swollen) but sprouting suckers with leaves?

Suckers look extremely healthy, should I take them off the tree to preserve the energy for spring? Why would they sprout?

oak bonsai

  • I see the tag bonsai above - is this a bonsai oak tree and is it indoors or out? Photograph would be helpful...
    – Bamboo
    Jul 3, 2016 at 10:21
  • Checked the pic, but I wanted to see the whole tree... is it indoors or out?
    – Bamboo
    Jul 3, 2016 at 11:18
  • It is indoors. There is no rest of tree. Its a stump it extends a few more inches and then its cut off.
    – JonathanC
    Jul 3, 2016 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


If its indoors, that would explain why its producing growth of any description - oak is really an outdoor bonsai, only being removed to shelter if temperatures fall low enough to freeze the soil and roots. There appears to be a bud on the main stem about half way up (in the picture) but I can't tell whether that's dead or not. First, check the main stem's condition by scraping back a bit of bark with a fingernail near the top to see if the main stem has died - if its greenish and moist beneath, it hasn't, in which case you should remove the basal shoots or suckers. It should still be outdoors though - the overnight temperatures you describe are not even minus ones, but now, you'll need to harden it off first. If the main stem is dead, then the only growth you're ever going to get is off the base, and you might then want to decide whether you want to keep the tree or not.

Having said all that, I'm curious as to why there's no topgrowth in the form of branches, but merely a straight trunklike stem... what's the explanation for that?

  • The tree was a whip from a nursery. They pruned everything to get it growing tall and straight. Since I was struggling to find oak anywhere around Cape Town, I bought it in the hope of taming it. It was around 2m high, no branches until the very top, but there were these buds up the trunk and I am hoping they come out
    – JonathanC
    Jul 4, 2016 at 17:18
  • The trunk is alive. There is green... :). Will be finding a suitable spot outside and will ease it in, over the next few days.
    – JonathanC
    Jul 4, 2016 at 17:19

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