tree tubes

treenutt(8)December 27, 2013

I know this topic has been brought up before, but cant seem to find it. What's yalls experience with tree tubes for seedlings? Ive been doing some internet research and they are quite expensive. Any do your self material available? thanks treenutt

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Tree tubes as in a shipping method? I dunno. I like it when things are cheap and I can experiment. Seems one step better than bare root, especially if stock gets held up in a UPS truck for a couple days.

FWIW, I have had very good luck with maples in tubes I have received.

What are ya doing? Thinking about ordering some tubes for growing in?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 3:07PM
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Are you referring to tree tubes, as in 'tree shelters', like TreePro, Tubex, etc.?
I have used them - and in some settings, they're a 'must' - otherwise, deer, rabbits, etc. browse them constantly - and sometimes out of existence. But, otherwise, I'm not a huge fan - they tend to foster rapid, but spindly growth.

Several types shown here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree tubes

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 5:00PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

There are several acres covered with seedlings with these tubes near a park in my area. Not sure who planted them but there are many that are starting to take off.

They would have never lasted a season without the tube with the surrounding woods.

This post was edited by whaas on Fri, Dec 27, 13 at 19:43

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 7:01PM
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tree tubes, shelters, used to help seedlings get past the first couple of years out in the wild Like what (lucky) mentioned.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 6:54PM
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More or less untended seedlings may have a higher survival rate in tubes, or in a setting where rabbits & deer will have unhindered access to them, they're a good investment.
On a tree in your yard that's easy to keep an eye on and care for, I'm not a fan of 'em. Have used them in that setting before, and was not pleased with the results.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 10:25PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Lucky, that was my point but not clearly stated. I'd personally never use them on my half acre but an unattended field adjacent to the woods its absolutely necessary for success.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 10:35PM
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The hooved rats are becoming such a problem for me that even in the yard here, close to the house, and the neighbors' homes, anything small has to be protected til it's big enough that the rabbits don't eat it, then a few more years til it's big enough that the bucks don't want to rub on it.
Stuff planted out around the farm? Fuhgeddaboutit without a tree shelter.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 9:11PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I found deer tracks along my front yard, a couple feet off the fondation....thinking what the hell are you doing up here?

Didn't see any damage to anything though.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Having worked with tree tubes for nearly 25 years, I thought I'd weigh in here.
Whether in a back yard or the back 40 it is always better to plant small seedling trees as compared to large potted or B&B trees with deformed root systems that will cause health problems and shorten the life of the tree down the road. Plus, a much wider array of tree species are available as seedlings as compared to the limited offerings of larger trees at local garden centers and big box gardening departments.
Tree tubes (aka treeshelters) have come a long way since being introduced to the USA from the UK in 1988. As Lucky says Tree Protection Supply in Georgia, along with Mossy Oak Nativ Nurseries in Mississippi, are the best sources.
Yes, trees to grow taller and thinner until they emerge from tree tubes, but the tubes are meant to be left in place to support the trees until they can support themselves.
At $4 to $5 for a tree tube and stake they might seem expensive, but they are without question the most cost-effective way to successfully establish a tree. In the landscape a seedling plus tree tube costs a fraction of a large potted or B&B tree and will grow faster and live longer. In the back 40 tree tubes cost a lot less than wire cages and ensure a high survival rate even during drought, avoiding the risk of failure and replanting (which is the most expensive thing of all).
There's no good way to make your own; tree tubes are made from specially formulated translucent plastic with just the right % of light transmission, and which is safe for use with trees.
Full disclosure: I'm in the business of selling tree tubes... but I do because I believe in them!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:13PM
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I have used some homemade shelters and they weren't tall enough to protect the tops of some seedlings. I will order a few taller ones from Mossy oak natives, where lots of my oaks are from anyway. They will be spindly until they get over the top of the shelters. I would think if you left those trees grow without shelters, you may be pruning off those lower branches anyway, eventually. I have a Durand oak that had a shelter that was very wide( a giant pot with the bottom cut out ) And the seedling is branched from the bottom to top, I WISH I stopped all these branches from forming, now I will need to prune most off eventually to mow in back of them once they get taller and wider.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:01AM
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send me your info. I will check out the tree tubes you have.
thanks treenutt

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:08AM
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salmon(4A WI)

I've had no luck with tree tubes (Tubex) in my climate. Growth was spindly and the trees failed to harden off for winter. In some cases, the foliage overheated and died in hot, sunny weather. I tried drilling ventilation holes in many with no luck.

I've gone to adjustable welded wire enclosures and hardware cloth to protect my trees against deer, rabbit and vole damage.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Salmon, I bet your trees didn't do well because they were not vented. I had the same issues and kicked tree tubes to the curb until they started making them with venting. Now I use them religiously and the results are astounding. Yes, from time to time I have had some trees come out spindly, but then I started using pvc stakes and it really changed the growth pattern from spindly to sturdy stems that hold themselves up and keep up with the growth of the trees. Wire cages do protect trees, but do nothing more than that. Tree tubes get my vote.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Old post, but a good one, and I thought I would throw my two cents in...

I have a half acre subdivision plot in an area of NE Ohio that is completely overrun with deer, so my circumstances may be a bit extreme. The lot was cleared recently of struggling ash and maple groves, and I have planted around 15 mail-order tree seedlings in the 1-5' range over the last four years.

Ordered a dozen Tree Pro tubes (5') and have experimented with them over this time. They definitely deter browsing. However, I think they are still susceptible to antler rubbing. I've had two cases where deer head butted the tube/stake and crushed them down to the ground (tuliptree and baldcypress).

I have also witnessed the spindly leader growth in the tubes, along with irregular branch patterns (dense, shoot-like growth at the bottom). I would recommend the tubes if someone is planting a bunch of trees in more of a "wild" setting. But if you are just talking about a few seedlings here and there and you have mulch rings around the trees (in a suburban setting), tubes would not be my first choice.

My best results have come from using 6' tomato stakes (oak) and cheap plastic deer netting. I set four posts around the seedling and run 5' of the netting around, making roughly a 6x6' square around the tree (can be smaller or larger depending upon the type of tree). Attach the netting and stakes with re-usable zip ties. It's obviously more work and a few more bucks than the tubes. But I have found that if the deer cannot get near the leader of the tree, they won't test the fence (even though it is flimsy). The other advantage is that you can still prune the tree annually, and you won't have to deal with a bunch of corrective pruning when you take the tubes off.

Anyway, good luck to anyone struggling with deer.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 10:48PM
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just read the new posts. I gonna throw in how my trees tubes worked over the last couple of years.
Tubex:. The green ones with the air vents starting about 15" from the bottom worked the best for me. I was able to spray grass/weed killer around the base of the seedlings. Those seedlings did the best, not in super growth, but just regular growth and survival. Protection from wildlife was a plus also.
Just your regular tubes: The white ones bought from some off the wall place and they were much cheaper. Didnt have the bottom protection from weed killer. These seedlings didnt grow so well, they lived but not much different from when I planted them.

All the seedlings were planted out in the back 40, so after care was not taken.
If I were to do it again, I would make sure to get all the tubex tubes (light green) so I can spray. That I believe is the number one condition to growing seeding in or out of tubes. Weed, grass, vines control. Protect your tree from other vegetation sucking up all the nutrients, moisture and etc. Dont get the stakes they try to sell you unless they are bamboo. I got them and they rotted within the first year. Replaced with all bamboo.

IMO. Tree tubes are only made to help in the survival of seedling or similar size trees. I did not see any kind of super growth on any of my trees. And I plant a lot of seedlings.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 9:04AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

excellent thread. Thanks for the year after results/information, treenut.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 10:14AM
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IMO again: Grasses are the number one cause in seedlings doing poorly. The two types I have problems with (excuse the spelling) bermuda, and bahia grass. Two of the most common hay grasses used for cattle in this area. Keep grasses away (at least 2') from seedlings.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 10:31AM
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How do you attach the bottom of the tube to the ground so rabbit can't get under it?

Anyone have trouble with tubes (or the sapling) leaning over so the tube scraped the bark from the tree?

I don't have a deer problem, so the major utility I find in tree tubes is they provide some sun protection in the summer and mark trees so they don't end up mowed or weeded. I think the trees I planted in full sun with the tree tubes had a better survival rate.

i accidentally put some tree tubes on pines, not realizing you aren't supposed to. If I leave them on they'll deform the tree out of the pyramidal shape. When would I remove the tree tubes from the pines in the Spring?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2015 at 10:45AM
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shelters like this are an absolute must to protect the trees for a couple of years. This is one of many examples of restoration work.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 5:32PM
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Never have used tree tubes. I make cages from welded wire fencing, I can buy 50ft of that for $37. I then use landscape fabric pins to anchor them down so they won't blow over.

Another thing I have done to prevent bucks from rubbing trees is to wrap the trunks with heavy duty aluminum foil, they hate the stuff and will avoid it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 6:27AM
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