This is a stem which grows from either the plant’s roots or from an existing, underground stem. Many shrubs, such as Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’, naturally grow and spread by suckering; they have many new stems growing from underground. The suckers can be removed, along with some of the small fibrous roots they should have at their base, as a method of propagating the plant (a form of division). You may also wish to remove them to restrict the spread of the plant; in this case they should be torn off at the point where they originate from the underground root or stem, cutting them back may encourage stronger regrowth.

Suckers can be more of a problem with grafted plants, particularly grafted roses, where the sucker grows from the rootstock. The sucker can be very vigorous and eventually take over the whole plant (so the scion growth dies back), therefore they should be removed as soon as they are spotted. Suckers should be torn off at the point where they come out from the underground root or stem.

‘Suckers’ is also a common name for psyllids, sap sucking insects which affect many trees and shrubs.