What are Water Sprouts on Trees?

There are so many different things on the trunk and branches of your tree that most people just overlook problem areas and think that it is something normal. Or, they think that something has gone wrong, but we depend on trees to take care of themselves pretty regularly. No matter what your thoughts are on inspecting your trees regularly, water sprouts are serious and need to be investigated regularly.

You need to be able to identify water sprouts and now how (and when) to leap into action when you have them.

What Are Water Sprouts?

  • Sometimes they don’t pose a problem
  • Can be caused by pruning, stress, or weather
  • Need to be removed promptly

Water sprouts are “vigorous, usually, upright shoots developing from dormant buds on the trunk or large branches of a tree,” according to the University of Maryland. They are dormant but can be reawakened when there is something else going on in the tree. For example, many water sprouts will emerge after pruning, a particularly bad injury, infestations, or the tree is in some other way stressed.

Water sprouts and suckers are often confused for each other, but they are slightly different. Suckers are usually lower on the trees whereas sprouts appear on the trunk and branches almost exclusively.

Water sprouts need to be prune away as soon as possible. Allowing them to remain can zap the nutrients and energy from the rest of the tree, leaving it vulnerable to problems.

How To Prune Water Sprouts

  • You likely won’t need a professional unless there are many water sprouts
  • Good pruning overall can help to avoid them
  • You need to make a clean cut

The first thing you need to know is that a few water sprouts can be easily removed by a homeowner with a bit of diligence. You need to cut them off using a clean tool, the sharper the better. You need not worry about making a clean cut with first year sprouts, as the tree can heal the wounds quickly. If your sprouts are older than a year old or they seem to be more difficult to cut, you may need to seek professional help.

Many first year sprouts don’t even need to be cut off – you should be able to rub them off with your fingers.

Sprouts that are older will be harder, and they tend to be higher on the tree. If this is the case for you, it may be a good idea to let the pruning to professionals.

Understanding Tree Trauma

  • Most people cause trauma
  • After trauma, you need to be more vigilant
  • Get wounds inspected if you are concerned

Tree trauma is serious, even if it looks like the tree is starting to heal itself. If you notice that your tree has a wound of any kind, whether it comes from a natural even such as lightening or you hit it with a lawn mower, you need to be concerned about how the tree heals.

Trees need to expend quite a bit of energy to heal themselves, though they are often likely to do it just fine. Trauma near the roots and trunk aren’t likely to result in water sprouts, but trauma to the branches are likely to do so. However, if your tree already had water sprouts and gets wounded, then you may have a problem.

It is important to understand the following about tree trauma (per the Morton Arboretum), “Urban and suburban trees are more likely to have wounds and decay than trees in native stands because people cause most wounds. These wounds are usually unintentional, such as automobiles, construction equipment, or lawn mowers bumping the tree trunk or surface roots, or improper pruning. Naturally occurring events, such as storms, fires, or damage by birds or other animals, may also cause wounds.” However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to pay attention to your trees.

If you think that your trees have trauma, it is best to get them looked at by a professional.

Water Your Trees To Avoid Water Sprouts

  • Watering can help flush out toxins that create problems
  • Overall, watered trees are healthy trees
  • Water helps to avoid situations in which water sprouts grow

It may seem to be a bit backward, but watering your trees and keeping them hydrated can actually help to prevent water sprouts, according to the University of Florida. Why is this? Trees that are hydrated aren’t as stressed as trees that are struggling to get enough water.

Trees that have water can get the nutrients and food that they need to fight against infestations, heal wounds, and grow taller and stronger. They are also just less likely to grow water sprouts. If they have water sprouts, you don’t have to worry about them taking away some nutrients and stressing out the rest of the tree.

Think of your tree like your body: you are better and healthier when you are hydrated. Even if something else goes wrong, staying hydrated can make everything just a little bit better.

Water sprouts don’t have to be a big deal. They are something that you can take care of yourself and take care of quickly. However, you need to know that your tree is healthy and know what a water sprout looks like before you take care of it. Taking a routine walk around your trees and understanding what they look like will help you to notice when there is something that goes wrong.

Need help with your trees? Have water sprouts and don’t know what to do? Have a tree care question? Need help with maintenance? If you believe that you have a problem with the trees or in your yard, give us a call today at (269) 216-6811. We’d love to chat about how we can help you. There is no job too big or too small – contact our professionals today!

Water Sprouts