Issue: November 29, 2003

Removing stumps of old trees?


I just had 23 very old and unhealthy trees cut from a property that I recently purchased. Is there a simple way to get rid of these stumps so that the trees do not come up again and the roots don't continue to spread? Can a stump be burned and buried, and will this prevent future growth? Blanca V.


Whether or not sprouts will develop from the trunk of a tree after you cut it depends on several things. What kinds of trees were removed? Cottonwood trees are very likely to re-sprout. Elms are less likely to re-sprout. Sprouts may develop from the trunk of a cut elm but are less like to appear in the lawn as sprouts develop from roots.

The age and health of a tree will also affect its chance of re-sprouting. An old tree that has been declining for years will produce fewer or no sprouts (depending on the kind of tree). Younger, vigorous trees are much more likely to sprout from at least the trunk. Older cottonwoods may produce more sprouts from the roots while younger cottonwood trees will sprout more from the stump.

Can you burn the stumps? If you are in a location where it is safe and legal to burn, you can pile the branches around the stump and burn it. This will prevent most of the sprouts that develop from the base of the tree. If the trees were cottonwood trees, you may see some sprouts developing from roots. This will depend on the vigor of the tree and the quantity of stored food reserves in the root system.

I used elms and cottonwoods as examples because they are very common here in New Mexico. Other trees will behave like either the elm or the cottonwood, sprouting from the old stump or from roots spreading across the landscape.

Repot Christmas cactus now?


Can I repot my Christmas cactus now?


You can repot it now, but if flower buds have begun forming, they may fall from the plant. If the plant is in poor health, especially due to salt accumulation in the soil damaging the roots, repotting is important. Waiting to repot until after flowering may endanger the plant, so it is better to risk sacrificing this yearās flowers and keeping the plant to bloom in the future.

After repotting at this time of the year, donāt expect new growth to begin immediately. In fact, if you keep it cool, dry, and give it long nights without interruption, it may actually develop flower buds and flower. Following flowering, it will begin growing. Donāt overwater it trying to get it to grow. A little moisture in the soil is necessary for root development, but too much will encourage the growth of root damaging fungi. Once new growth begins, watering can be gradually increased.Ź

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Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112 Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest on: KNME-TV Albuquerque at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, KENW-TV Portales at 10 a.m. Saturdays, and KRWG-TV Las Cruces at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays (repeated at 1 p.m. Thursdays.)