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How to Start a Wild Dogwood Tree From a Sucker Branch

By Jay Golberg ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 Will Need

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


  • If you cut the roots of the tree to harvest the suckers you may damage the tree and cut off the nutrient supply to the sucker.

About the Author


Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.