Can you propagate Clethra from suckers? If so, when is the best time to do so?


My questions is about transplanting suckers from a Summer Sweet Clethra shrub. I have a source of suckers from an established shrub that needs to be pruned in the spring because it is taking over the bed. It does not leaf out until June. I wonder if I could separate and dig up some suckers early to mid-spring before the bush starts growing and transplant them right away in a new spot. Is there a better time to dig them up and plant them? 


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

Yes, you can propagate Clethra from the suckers and it’s an easy way to let Mother Nature help you out with easy plant propagation. Generally, Clethra lends itself to stem cuttings in early summer, but if the suckers are rooted (once the soil is loose, you can give them a gentle tug to see if you get root resistance) you can move 6-8″ back toward the mother plant and sever the sucker with a sharp spade or garden knife dug straight down, and then pot up the new propagule. If the sucker is too new, it may not have fully developed roots yet–if you need to take out the sucker in that case, I would treat it as if it were a stem cutting as detailed on this great Clemson University Extension page. Just note that the unrooted suckers taken earlier than the summer window recommended for stem cuttings might not be quite as successful or may take more time to establish.

Happy gardening.