Issue: June 25, 2005

Sprouting from stump | Mid-Summer Planting

Sprouting from stump

Question:

Last fall I cut an old elm tree and now a lot of branches are coming up from the stump. Do I need to get rid of the branches, and if so, how can I get rid of them?

Answer:

Elm trees will often produce sprouts from the stump after a tree has been cut even when chemical "stump killers" have been applied. The 'stump killers' may reduce the sprouting but won't always prevent sprout formation.

You can use a translocated herbicide (labeled for this purpose) to kill the sprouts, or you can just cut the sprouts as they develop. The reason I mentioned a translocated herbicide is that the translocated herbicide is absorbed into the tree and moves inside the tree (translocates) to kill more than just the area where the chemical was applied. Whether you use the chemical or manually remove the sprouts, new sprouts that are weaker than the first ones may develop. The chemical will cause the stump to cease production of sprouts more quickly than will manual removal of sprouts. In either case (chemical or manual sprout removal), your purpose is to deplete stored food reserves in the trunk and roots. Once the stored food reserves are depleted, the stump will stop producing sprouts.

Some people leave the sprouts, trimming them to form a shrub. Such elm shrubs can be an effective hedge in some locations. They do not produce attractive flowers but can become a very dense hedge or landscape shrub if properly and frequently trimmed. The elm is better able to grow with limited water than many other shrubs. However, if not trimmed annually, the elm may develop dominant sprouts that become trunks of new trees replacing the old tree you removed. These trunks may not be as stable as the single trunk of the old tree and may create a hazard in your landscape.

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Mid-Summer Planting

Question:

I was visiting relatives during April and May and didn't get a garden planted. Can I plant flowers now?

Answer:

Yes, you can plant both flowers and some vegetables from seeds and from transplants. The flowers should be blooming by August. If you can find transplants remaining in a nursery or start transplants from cuttings of existing flowering plants, you may have the flowers even sooner. This is also true with vegetables, but the vegetables take some time to mature after flowering so they are slower.

If you want flowers or vegetables from seeds, be sure to check the time from seed to harvest (usually written on the seed packet) to be sure you have enough time to mature your flower or vegetable crop and have some time for prolonged flowering or harvest.

There are some plants that do better when planted in the late summer for fall flowering. These are good choices and often tolerate some frost. They will extend your flowering season beyond the time when most garden plants have died. Perhaps you may find that you want to have both a spring garden and a fall garden each year.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu or at https://www.facebook.com/DesertBloomsNM/. Please include your county Extension Agent (aces.nmsu.edu/county) and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at desertblooms.nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.