Is there any hope for this tree?

woodswalker88(6)May 8, 2012

I planted a maple & an oak tree from Lowes last June. The maple is doing fine but the oak is still pencil-thin and although it has grown to about 10 feet, it cannot stand up straight. It looks kinda pathetic and I'm wondering if it can survive.

see the photos labeled 'crooked oak' and 'crooked oak2".

I did put a fertilizer spike next to it in February and maybe that caused it to grow past its own strength.

If this tree has no hope, I should just get rid of it and plant a hybrid poplar or similar quick-shade tree for my patio area.

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Yes, the fertilizer spike is almost certainly the cause.
It appears quite healthy but will need to sway around in the wind for a while to stimulate girth building. The way you have it staked, though not ideal, should be fine.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:52PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

A tree that can't support its own weight is never good.

I don't know if its 'kosher' but I would personally remove the stakes and cut it back to whatever point it can support without falling over. Give that yungin' a chance to build up some girth.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 6:13AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

NEVER plant a 'fast growing tree' that close to the house ...

i will ponder this ... and report back.. when i come up with some solution ... if ever .. lol

hopefully someone else will before my head explodes.. lol ...

the fert spike was useless.. and did not cause this since transplant last june ...

the only error is the choice of stock you made when you bought it.. favoring height.. instead of stability ....


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:20AM
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The mulched area around the oak leads me to believe your planting hole was waaay too small. And seeing your hole is too small, I wonder if you removed any potting soil off the top like you should have to plant the root flare at or just above ground level. This last part is not your fault. It should be on the planting instructions tag. That aside, all you need do now is get a tall stake around the height of the oak tree and tie it to the trunk in a similar fashion as you have already done with the green stakes. Leave it for this year. Make sure it gets good deep watering when the top of the soil gets dry. It should put on enough caliper this year if you keep it healthy that the stakes can be removed this fall when it loses its leaves.

I bought and planted a nuttall oak from Lowes fall of 2010 and it was similar and very spindley. Last year was its first growing season and it easily doubled in trunk girth and incredibly grew over 3'. A friggin dear rubbed the @#$% out of half the trunk this past fall but it has still grown about 1' so far and has just broken bud again for the second time this year. My point is they are pretty tough trees and if you do water and mulch appropriately (you need to round up a 3' x 3' circle and put a couple inches of mulch around that tree) you should get good growth out of yours also.

Hope this helps :)


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:17AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i was wondering if she got a 6 foot bamboo stake.. and tied it to the trunk [not in the ground].. with nylons.. to add stoutness to the trunk ... sorta like a splint ????

there is no way you are going to stake that thing as it is ...

the stakes there can be removed.. as they are not doing anythings for that tree

i would have bought a tree half that size.. and it would have been that big next year anyway ... opt for better stock.. over size ...


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 3:38PM
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Really, 1 large stake opposite the lean and taping to the trunk to allow some movement of the tree WILL (most likely) work just fine. If the OP can get the tree to grow well the next year or two and add good caliper (which happens by having a lot of leaves making energy with sufficient water), the tree can remain staked with some swaying allowed and be just fine. I have seen this in person myself with a similar tree. Remember the tree will want to grow straight up unless it is leaning for sunlight.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Thanks for your replies everyone!
As to this suggestion: "I would personally remove the stakes and cut it back to whatever point it can support without falling over." That would probably remove all the leaves! I don't know if the tree could survive that.

Another person says I planted it too close to the house. I measured it & it is 36 ft. There is also a young maple, planted at the same time, which is 30 ft from the house. This was last year when I had just moved here & there was nothing to protect me from the blazing heat: nothing but Lawn.

I posted a pic of the 2 trees, patio & side of house. What do you folks think? Thanks for everyone's input.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Your distances are more than fine :)


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:25PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Nah it'd probably survive it... hell it'd probably survive if you cut it right to the ground.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:40PM
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As long as your tree is adequately established, cutting it even to ground level as famartin suggested will not only not kill it, but it will/should respond with vigorous suckers from the stump! You could leave them for a couple years then begin to thin them out. I once read that the majority of eastern US forests actually arrive as mature trees in this manner. Think of all the deer and rabbit browse, bear rubs, buck rubs etc that go on.

Of course, you could also stake it and not worry about it ;) I must admit, watching trees grow from vigorous suckers is very enjoyable personally. After a year or two, you can begin eliminating thinning out the suckers and start to work on a central leader.

I have a blackgum "bush" growing like this and it is quite cute at the moment. Very hard to imagine this will be a large tree some day. But, with enough time, it will happen. This is what it looks like after being heavily thinned out this past spring before bud swell. It doesn't look like I even touched it! I did pick a central leader and am trying to encourage it to grow up but lower suckers are growing a bit faster than the stem I picked out as the leader :(

By jp_42_82 at 2012-05-09


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:52PM
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Well actually my goal was a few shade trees in the shortest time possible, rather than shrubs...cause it is broiling hot in the summer :) But I guess you can't hurry Nature...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:38PM
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