Sugarberry (AKA Hackberry)


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Last spring some of the fine folks on this forum helped me identify some of the trees in by backyard as Sugarberry. Now I'm wondering if y'all could provide some recommendations on digging one up. Currently there is a sugarberry tree growing much to close to my fence and I figured since I need to remove it anyways I might as well see if I can make something of it. As bonsai material goes it's far from great...I have no idea what the roots look like but the trunk is about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and splits into three trunks two of which are intertwined with each other. On top of that it's growing up against the remains of a hibiscus which almost died over the winter. I have a plan in mind to deal with the triple trunk conundrum, but I was hoping to get some advice on when the best time of year to dig it up would be. I'm guessing somewhere around early March.

Thanks in advance for any help y'all can offer. :)
If you can wait until spring it would be best. if you need to dig it now, just try to keep it from freezing if you get a frost; which shouldn't be too hard to do in Houston.

Hackberry, similar to elms, put out heavy taproots, and you'll find they're thick for quite a distance growing out from the trunk before the feeder roots first appear. If you're not in a hurry, you would have better luck spading around the rootball now, cutting through some of the heavy roots in about an 8" radius around the trunk, and letting it grow new roots from the cuts closer in to the trunk for 6-12 months before you collect.

Being similar to elms, though, they're pretty easy, so you should still expect it to survive even if you got mostly heavy support roots with few feeder roots...but doing it just as the buds are swelling in the spring will help ensure success. This way you'll know all the energy stored in the roots has pushed up into the the trunk. The leaves develop, and in-turn, fuel new root growth.

Good luck, hackberry do make good bonsai!
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Thanks for the advice. I can definitely wait till spring...that was my original plan. One other question I had on this material. Can it be trunk chopped or do I need to leave at least some foliage on it when I collect it?
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Won't require any foliage on top. In fact, collect it before it starts pushing top growth. Do a straight chop across the trunk about 1/3 higher than you may think it needs. It should backbud all along the trunk in a few weeks after collection.
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