Monday, February 26, 2024

Crown suckers

Question:  I’ve had problems with compound crowns in trailers, also occasionally a compound crown sucker in a miniature.  This occurs even in plants that haven’t been subjected to any unusual stress.  Also, leaves from these plants will produce offspring with this same habit.

Answer:  “Crown-suckers” can be very frustrating, particularly since they are difficult to remove without damaging the center of the plant.  As you noted, suckering is frequently induced by stressful conditions, since this is just another means of the plant trying to reproduce itself.  Showplants are notorious for suckering more when disbudded–preventing one means of reproduction only encourages another.  Any form of stress–heat, irregular watering, overuse of fertilizers or other chemicals, can induce suckering.

Sometimes, however, suckering occurs even under good cultural conditions.  Since this habit seems confined to a few varieties in particular, our guess is that this trait is genetic in nature.  Some varieties are just more prone to (crown) suckering than others.  As hybridizers, we also know that it’s a trait that is easily passed along in seedlings, and has to be “bred out”.  In other cases, this conditions is present in only a few particular plants (a “strain”) of the variety.  Acquiring a plant of this variety from another source (who doesn’t have this problem) would be the best solution.

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