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Trees/How to cease Sweet Gum tree root sprouts


QUESTION: I have Sweet Gum Trees where some of the roots are exposed at the surface extending several feet from the tree base. There are tons of sprouts (suckers I think they are called) that keep growing up from the roots. I trim them off only to have them grow back shortly thereafter. I used to trim then spray with pruning seal. This was somewhat more effective but wore off easily. Is there a product I can use to keep them from resprouting after trimming ?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, controlling root sprouts will be an ongoing, but ultimately futile task. Grubbing them is a short-term solution, but the sprouts will come back. Most people simply mow them regularly to keep them under control. In beds, mowing may not be an option and grubbing may be your only choice. Herbicides that will kill the root sprouts will greatly harm and likely kill the "mother" tree as well.

There are some growth hormones that will stop or slow the growth of these sprouts. One of these is called Sucker-Stopper a ready to use product. You might check with your local nursery/ garden type store for this product. Here is a link to information on Sucker- Stopper.

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QUESTION: Mowing is not an option for the trees are in a raised "bed". I do not know what Grubbing is - please explain. The Sucker Stopper product label says it's for use on "Apples, Olives, Pears, Non-Bearing Citrus and Ornamental Woody Plants" - Sweetgum Tree not listed. Is there not a product one can "paint" on the areas of the roots where sprouts are emerging from ? I recall hearing something long ago about using tar.

Sweetgum trees are Ornamental Trees (woody plants). Liquidambar styraciflua is a popular ornamental tree, cultivated for its distinctive foliage and intense autumn colors. It is commonly grown throughout its native North American range as well as many other temperate parts of the world.
Grubbing is digging the sprout out. The spray will be the best and easiest method.

Here is this product on Amazon.


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Jim Hyland


I am an expert in Forestry, Forest Entomology, Forest Pest Control, and Forest Health. Extensive knowledge in Identification of insects and diseases of trees. Expert on Bark beetles and other insects that attack forests. Also a Registrated Forester with extensive knowledge in the management and care of forests.


34 years as State Pest Management Chief in a Southern state. Extensive knowledge in Forestry.

BS with major in Forest Management and Entomology
Registered Forester
Certified Pesticide Appicator

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