Planting a honey locust near tree stumps

Asked June 8, 2018, 9:53 AM EDT

I am wanting to plant a honey locust that is roughly 2-3 feet tall. We cut down three very large oak trees that had oak wilt last fall. The stumps are still there but there is a good 4-5 foot distance between them. Can I plant the honey locust there? How much space does it need to grow around with out anything near it? Will the oak wilt that was in the trees cause issues to the honey locust.

Ramsey County Minnesota trees and shrubs oak wilt planting trees honey locust trees

1 Response

Thank you for the question. A new tree will grow better in an area where there are no old roots than if there were roots. This is not to say that you cannot plant a tree near a stump. The new tree will grow its roots wherever it can find the space, but it is best to get far enough away to avoid the roots or to cut out the old oak roots as much as you can before planting a new tree. If this is not possible, you might consider having the stump and large roots professionally removed. Trees of your oak's size will have made many roots, some of them quite large, while they were growing in that location. Also, many fungi and bacteria will move in to decompose the dead roots, and this process may interfere with nutrient availability for the new tree. Our publication on Removing Trees and Shrubs states that 6-8 feet is minimum distance between the new tree and old:

Last, only oak trees are affected by oak wilt:

Honey locust is considered a medium sized tree, growing to about 25-50 feet high and almost as wide at maturity. Make sure the honey locust tree is a thornless cultivar as the native form with its sharp, formidable thorns makes it difficult to manage.

Thank you for contacting Extension.