Conifers Gardening pruning

Will Conifers Resprout From a Stump?

Question: I’ve noticed that many trees will sprout from the stump when you cut them down, but conifers never seem to do so. Are they all incapable of sprouting from the base?

A. Pospisil

Answer: You almost had me stumped with this question. I nearly replied yes, based on my experience: I’ve never seen a conifer resprout from a stump. But then I recalled hearing that, after Hiroshima, ginkgos (Ginkgo biloba) that had been nearly blasted out of existence did resprout. Now, officially ginkgos are not conifers, but they are gymnosperms, very close relatives. If ginkgos can resprout from the trunk, maybe some conifers can too.

It turns out that most conifers are indeed incapable of sprouting from the base: they have no dormant buds on the older parts of their trunk and certainly not at their base. This includes most conifers commonly grown in colder climates like mine: spruces, pines, firs and larches. However, there are some conifers that do bear dormant buds on old wood and some of these can resprout even if cut back to the ground.

Conifers That Can Resprout

A whole cluster of trees has sprouted from this very old stump of a coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), including two already very tall trees. Photo: baynature.org

Here is a partial list of conifers that are capable of resprouting from a stump:

Araucaria (Araucaria, some species)
Celery pine (Phyllocladus spp.)
Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Kauri (Agathis spp.)
Patagonian cypress (Fitroyza cupressoides)
Pine (Pinus, some species, mostly of subtropical origin)
Plum yew (Cephalotaxus spp.)
Podocarpus (Podocarpus, some species)
Yew (Taxus spp.)

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

1 comment on “Will Conifers Resprout From a Stump?

  1. Most of our region had been harvested by clear cutting all of the redwood, mostly after 1906. However, the second generation of trees are now hundreds of feet tall. Now there is a problem with crowding of the multiple trunks that developed from each of the formerly solitary trunks. Selective harvesting would help, but uneducated and inexperienced treehuggers protest ANY harvesting.

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