Industry News: Tree Planting Tips and Species Recommendations

Q: Can we grow another tree from our sugar maple's stump sprouts?

Monday, January 4, 2016  
We recently lost a 30' sugar maple in front of our farmhouse in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during a violent windstorm. The tree was perfectly placed, which makes us hesitate in planting a new one some distance away. My question is, if the stump sprouts, is there any reason why we could not grow a new tree from a selected sprout? Are there any structural or other complications that would make this unwise?

A: You certainly can grow a new tree from stump sprouts, and maples commonly do regenerate that way. In fact, many trees throughout the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest landscape are from stumps that sprouted after logging operations. And at one time, regeneration was a common nursery production practice for certain species of tree. Stump sprouts may develop weak structures, but a store bought tree also can. You can encourage the tree to be strong by letting the stump sprouts grow for two or three years, and then selecting the most vigorous one to keep. Simply cut off the others. Eventually, the stump will rot away and just your new tree will be left.

Responder: Ed Milhous, RCA #350, Haymarket, VA