Tree Suckers & Summer Blooming Azaleas

Question:

I have a pink flowering Prunus Blireiana Plum that has created a small forest of suckers. They're coming in my peonies, roses, and iris beds twenty feet from the main trunk. Could gophers have caused this? What is the best way to remove them without damaging the tree and the other plants?   

Answer:

  • Gophers would not cause excessive tree suckering as they cause the tree to suffer in other ways. They tend to gnaw on the roots, severely damaging them by causing dieback in the tree's canopy. Since the plum tree is not experiencing any damage, gophers are not your problem.
  • Fruiting and non-fruiting plums will naturally sucker from their roots. This problem also occurs with cherries, popular apples, liquidambar, crape myrtles, and tree roses.
  • Unfortunately, there is no easy way to stop the suckers as it is part of the genetic make of these plants. Treating the suckers as they sprout is an answer, but chemical herbicides are problematical with the surrounding desirable plants and the main tree.
  • Sucker Stopper, from Monterey Lawn and Garden, is a growth regulator that stops the growth when applied to suckers at the point of origin, usually at the trunk or an exposed root.
    • You prune off the sucker growth and apply Sucker Stopper to pruned off area.  The process was repeated as necessary.
    • For those shoots originating underground roots away from the trunk, it's ineffective.  For those shoots that pop up, you prune them off at the ground and or spot-treat them with a herbicide. It takes a lot longer for the new sucker to return with a chemical solution.
    •  I'd asked the nursery professional at your favorite garden center for a recommendation.  You don't want to make an expensive mistake with the wrong product. Another thought is to have an arborist come on-site and evaluate the possibility of removing the exposed lateral plum roots.
  •  Finally, this is a problem that will not go away.

Question:

Will Azaleas bloom again during the summer if you prune them after blooming in the spring? If so, how much Pruning is necessary?

Answer:

  • Pruning does not affect when Azaleas bloom unless you remove the buds after they have set. Azaleas are pruned only to shape them.
  • The best time to prune is after they finish flowering. The old flowers must be manually removed as Azaleas do not self-shed. This allows you to simultaneously shape and clean up the plant(s).
  • Azaleas only bloom in the spring; however, there are locations where we see them bloom a second time.
    • Some varieties will bloom a second time in areas with a strong marine influence, such as  San Ramon, Martinez, and Fremont. After several heat spells, the cool, moist air tricks the plants into blooming again, but it doesn't happen every year.
    • Encore Azaleas is a series of azaleas bred to bloom twice a year, regardless of the climate.