How to Start a Wild Dogwood Tree From a Sucker Branch


The dogwood tree (Cornus florida) is a desirable landscape tree that grows in the rich moist soil of the Southeastern US. Occasionally, a sucker or sucker branch, which resembles a small tree, comes up from the top of a root of a dogwood tree that is close to the surface of the soil. The suckers can be allowed to grow into a new tree because this is how a dogwood thicket is formed; you can remove the sucker from the root, however, and propagate it to make another dogwood tree. Suckers are also called water sprouts when they appear at the base of the tree instead of on top of the root system.

Step 1

Choose a day in early spring when the sucker is just beginning to leaf out but is no longer than 5 inches long.

Step 2

Remove the sucker by pulling it in the opposite direction it is growing so you create a "heel" at the base of the sucker where it was removed from the root or main trunk. Immediately place the sucker in a container holding water. When you are removing the sucker from the root, you may notice that there are some new roots forming around the base of the sucker where it attaches to the main root. If this is the case, carefully remove the sucker with a sharp blade by slicing under the roots so the roots are removed with the sucker; otherwise pull the sucker off to create the heel as described.

Step 3

Prepare a clean flower pot by filling with new potting soil. Use new potting soil to help prevent fungal or mildew diseases that may be in old or used potting soil. Soak the potting soil in the flower pot and let drain.

Step 4

Remove the sucker from the container of water and dip the heel of the sucker into the powdered rooting hormone making sure the heel is completely covered with powdered rooting hormone.

Step 5

Place the end of the sucker covered with rooting hormone into the damp potting soil and lightly pack the damp soil around the base of the stem. Place in a bright area, but not in direct sun, in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees F. Keep moist, but not wet, and expect the sucker to root in 6-8 weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Dogwood tree with sucker attached
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Container
  • Source of water
  • Clean flower pot with drainage
  • New potting soil


  • Wild About Gardening: Dogwood-A Plant For All Seasons
  • Northern Garden: Tree Suckers
  • Gardens Alive: Suckers and Watersprouts on Trees
Keywords: rooting dogwood suckers, dogwood trees propagation, dogwood trees

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.