Shubert chokecherry leaning in top trunk

byline(6a NS)June 10, 2007

We have a 2-year-old Shubert chokecherry tree. It's done very well, with one minor exception: In its upper main stem, it leans slightly to the west. For the first two years, we let it go in the hope that it would right itself. We also pruned back some smaller branches to encourage more growth on the east side. However, it's still leaning (though most of the trunk, up through the bottom branches, is nicely vertical).

This tendency to lean seems to be occurring mainly because the branches of Schubert chokecherries are a bit droopy, so the upper stem isn't strong enough yet to support its own weight.

So we decided to run a small dowel rod up the top part, starting at where it's straight and then loosely attaching it with twine in three places, to coax it to grow upward (the twine is tight enough to hold the dowel rod in place, but not tightly wrapped around the trunk). We also pruned off a branch at the top that appeared to be a pretty major split.

That's all I can think of to do. How long should we leave the dowel rod in? I'm thinking one year. I know I also need to be checking periodically to make sure that the twine isn't rubbing into the bark. Any other recommendations? Thanks!

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

These usually aren't bolt upright. Pruning off one side does not make the other side grow more. In fact, it makes it grow less because you have cut away part of the food-making leaves and food-storing stems of the tree.

Headed back branches appear to grow more because they put out vigorous shoots (behind the pruning cuts and not on unpruned branches on the other side of the tree) in an attempt to quickly restore the missing growth. However, overall increase in volume is reduced by pruning.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Some trees just grow with a droopy leader - as it gets taller and thicker the lower section stands up, so maybe by the end of summer it's quite straight, and then begins again in the spring to lean over. And maybe the top portion will always lean - look at hemlocks. Trees that do grow like this do end up with a straight trunk over time.

I would double check to see if this is in fact the normal growth pattern for this tree - I am not sufficiently familiar with it to be able to say - try Google Image to see a bunch of photos. If it's normal, then that's how it grows, so don't bother with dowels. If, in fact, it's NOT normal, then carry on.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 4:29PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I don't know that I've ever seen a board-straight chokecherry.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 4:32PM
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byline(6a NS)

We didn't do a lot of pruning. We did some on the west side of the tree, to try to balance out the weight a bit, and then a very little bit on the east side, just on some branches that were rubbing, and also on that stem that appeared to be a split. I'll have to tell the folks at the garden centre I bought the tree from that they gave me bad advice, re: pruning enhancing growth. But fortunately, we didn't do very much of it.

I really don't know if this is a normal pattern for chokecherries. I've seen others that look fairly straight up and down all the way through. As I said before, the problem seems to relate to the fact that the main stem up top just isn't very strong yet. It's almost like a weeping willow, except that everything droops to the west.

As for it straigtening out over summer, maybe that will happen eventually, but so far it's never happened. For all of the two years we've had the tree, it's been doing this westward lean, even in winter after all the leaves are off.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 4:44PM
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byline(6a NS)

Here's a good picture; ours has a bit more of a lean up top than the one in this photo.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chokecherry

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 5:08PM
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I planted a chokecheery last year and the leader looks very droppy as well. Did attaching the wooden rod help or is this just normal for these trees?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:49AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey fake.. start your own post.. and add a picture.. and we can probably tell you if its normal.. or needs staking...


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 3:14PM
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