How do remove a sucker so that I can use it as rootstock and not hurt my main fruit tree?

I brought a dwarf tree, peach, that suckers a lot. I’d like to use the rootstock for other trees. How do I remove the suckers and not hurt the main tree? I don’t know the rootstock name. I could just cut the suckers, but I don’t know if that will work, allow them to root.

I’ve done this with Marianna, which is a rootstock that is used for lots of stone fruit, so it might relate to your situation. Follow the root sucker down as far as you can and cut it off well underground. (I surmise that if the rootstock is given to suckering it’ll have plenty of vigor to replace whatever you steal from it.) It’s best if it has quite a few secondary roots. Also, search “stooling” here for a good discussion of what you’re talking about.


Peaches tend to sucker very close to the main trunk and it is hard to remove roots with those suckers since they are growing right from one of the main roots of the tree. So, I’ve never considered grabbing a sucker from any of my peach trees. Instead I just grab the seedlings that sprout up. I just dug up a dozen a few days ago and put them in my nursery.

Plums on the other hand put out suckers far away from the trunk… just gently dig all around it and cut off a section of the main root for the sucker. I would wait until dormant time as it might not transplant well.


What do you mean by grabbing the seedlings? The sucker?

I dug up some St Julian plum suckers from a generous member, cut them up on a miter saw and potted them up, then pruned to one leader with two or three buds. I’ve kept them in the shade this whole time. This was about a month ago and they are doing well.


Oh, I thought you were saying you did that with a peach tree sucker.

Seedlings are seeds that sprouted. Peaches sprout from seeds on the ground very reliably. The things you think are suckers may in fact be seedlings.

My Belle of Georgia Peach suckered a few times after a deer girdled it. I just pulled them like a weed while they were still mostly green, grabbed right at ground level and gave ‘em a tug (only something I do when they are still tender). One came up with a few secondary roots attached so I potted it up. That was two years ago. Last year a deer munched it down and it grew three scaffolds from the nub that was left and that is how I left it. Now it is about 3/4” caliper and 12” tall and the three scaffolds won’t be thick enough to graft onto until next year.

So, in summary, it is possible but may take 2-3 years before you can use them…and then another 3-5 years before they bear fruit after that. As a hobby it is fine, but if you are looking to add another tree to your yard that you grafted yourself, just buy a rootstock and save yourself the 2-3 years.

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Removing a root is no difference than removing a branch. Well I guess it is as you don’t remove branches with shovels…

Anyways! Same thing; the tree will grow more roots. So it will hurt (or not hurt) the tree every bit as much as removing a similar rate of branch material. Honestly it can hurt us more to remove a branch; the tree doesn’t pay attention to the aesthetics as much as we do.

If you really want the suckers and aren’t sure of roots, just put a plant pot with hole at the bottom over it, then layer it. You’ll have a pot on the ground for a year. Rootstock already in pot, cut below pot in the winter.


If its not right next to the tree, and I’m not in a hurry, I like to take a sharp shovel and sever the runner connecting it to the tree’s system, without otherwise disturbing it.

Doing that anytime from Fall to Spring, gives it a long time to grow some of its own secondary roots, without the stress of transplant to boot. Then it should be easier to dig the next cool/rainy/dormant season.


I guess it depends how many plants you need. To me a sucker sprouting away from the main plant is awesome not because the sucker itself but because it telegraphs where a fat root pumped for suckering is.

I just digged such a root, chopped it into 6-inch pieces and potted them all, about 14. The sucker itself is history; it is easier to sprout the roots than to babysit a single tender sucker.

But I need to cut it like air layering, right?

I planted it in early March, so I didn’t want to be to hard on it.

Yes, usual layering. I scrape the side and add rooting hormone, usually Clonex because that’s what I have. I use the powder on some bench things, but not outside when not dippable/dustable. Or if older do what Murky said, sever and leave it to grow awhile.
This layering is all IF you meant 2021 March for planting, if it was 2022 March then cut the sucker and let the tree grow.

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  1. This year is when I planted.

Just let that tree grow out then. If it is suckering this early you may have some incompatibility issue.