Monday, September 12, 2011


We just moved in to a home with 5 citrus trees and a peach tree. Now that I've had some time to look them over, it appears that I have three grapefruits, a peach and two big suckers!

These suckers -- which are defined in my "California Master Gardener Handbook" as rapidly growing, upright secondary vegetative shoots that develop from the root, crown or stem of a plant -- occurred when the trees' fruiting (grafted) stock was pruned off or died, and the rooting stock took over. It's not good.

This is my peach. The fruit is small (could use some thinning in the future) and it needs some pruning. But I think it may do all right.

This is my old granny yellow grapefruit. The poor thing has been underwatered for years and needs a ton of pruning. Fruit is OK.
Here is one of the suckers. Note the long shoots, lack of flowers and fruit, and spiky spines along the trunk.

Sucker #2. Long, leafy shoots. Again, no sign of fruit or flowers. Just lots of shoot.

And a close-up of a Sucker #2's "trunk," which is just a long shoot coming up from the base. Get a load of those spines!

Ahhh, this is nice to see. My second grapefruit -- don't yet know if it will be yellow or red flesh. But please note the thick trunk, evidence of fruit and outward (not just upward) growth.

Thankfully, I also have this wonderful and delicious ruby red grapefruit (at left and above left) that is doing fine.


Now that I have identified the suckers, they are on the pull-out list.

They will never grow fruit!

I need contributors, not suckers! I'm thinking an orange, a lemon and a lime, for starters. Any suggestions for good desert varieties?


  1. I absolutely hate suckers - my crab apple trees have loads of them every year. It gets very frustrating. If I didn't love those trees so much, I would cut them down because of this! But I do. (love them, that is)

  2. Hi Holley! May I call you Holley? :)
    Thanks for visiting.
    Do you still get any crab apples from your trees?
    Luckily for me, it's obvious that there is no "good part" left of these trees. Someone at some point hacked them down past the graft. They are all sucker, no fruiter!
    Makes it an easy choice to take them out and put in something that will be useful.

  3. Oh how I wish I could grow citrus! You have beautiful trees!

  4. Thanks, Shannon!
    My tree wishlist would include avocado and mango! But it's too dry and hot out here in the des. I'm definitely going to plant an orchard of anything that can grow well in the conditions here, once it cools down enough.
    Love your blog, by the way! We have a lot in common!

  5. How lucky to be able to grow your own citrus. You are smart to look into the sucker issue--I would have assumed they would eventually turn into fruit-bearing trees.

  6. Thanks, we are lucky to live in such a warm climate. I guess we do prefer being too warm to too cold!

  7. Wow, those are some thorns! That's awesome that you are getting grapefruit and possibly peaches!

  8. Hi Indie! Yes, I had read that thorns on root stock tend to be longer, so that was another identifying feature for me. Those thorns are more than an inch long!
    I didn't like grapefruit much before we moved here (except juiced into a greyhound, yum), but the ruby red ones are delicious with no accompaniment.