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Too many Leaders.

Posted by Dutchman99 9a ( on
Mon, Apr 14, 14 at 18:49

I planted this 5' Afghan Pine 4 months ago when it only had 2 leaders on top. I thought for the time being I'd just watch it. Now it's a jungle!
My question is: if I physically bend all except the longest leader out horizontally to the ground, would they continue as side branches and spread out or would I be damaging them? I was watering it every 4 days for 3 hours with a soaker hose but cut back to once a week. I was giving it 1 gallon of a 20-20-20 water soluable fertilizer every 3 weeks but have stopped that. Any input would be appreciated. Also, how long should I keep the support stick implanted? This time of year it gets more than a little windy in the desert.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Too many Leaders.

I would pick the right one as dominant and cut back to the lower growth flush on the left. If the others are not dominant, and growing sideways keep if you want. Or put a wooden wedge between the 2 leaders, forcing one to grow sideways. I would do that, if it were mine. Wait for other advice, I am no pro, just giving my 2 cents.

RE: Too many Leaders.

Nursery employee showed me a trick that might work. Pick one to be the leader. Clip the other, but leave a stub. Pull the leader over and tape it to the stub. That holds the leader straight as it grows . Best not do this until others much more knowledgable than I chime in.

RE: Too many Leaders.

Before pruning -- consider if you might want another tree of the same type. Air layering as a method of plant propagation might work on that branch (add some support to hold it up while doing this). It would mean you may have to let it grow out a little longer but when done, you'll have another to plant somewhere nearby.

I just recently pruned a nice sucker from a redbud tree. It was about 2 pencils' width and about 3 feet tall. About 12 hours later, as I saw it sitting in my yard and the leaves drying up, I realized I could have tried to grow it out as a new tree with air layering. Now I will be more cautious about pruning certain plants if I wanted more of them, even though the immediate interest is to prune the plant to grow in a certain way and waiting another 2-3 months seems like a long time.

RE: Too many Leaders.

its a conifer .. there is that forum... but no need to duplicate as most of those peeps hang out here ...

i am not aware of pine rooting ...

yes.. you have two leaders ... cut one off... just about at the place of the date in your pic.. your choice as to which ... and yes.. it will leak resin.. ignore it ...

bending it down... would not be pleasing to my eye ... and frankly.... with the thickness of the trunk.. at height.. i dont know how you would bend it and hold it ....

many of my conifers.. that do this.. it is caused by the darn birds.. perching on the top most bud.. until they ruin it.. and then cause two to trigger.. to releader ...

the stake is useless to that above.. get rid of it ...

i NEVER fertilize my conifers.. in MI sand ...

see link for PROPER WATER ... i think.. on some level.. you are guessing... insert finger.. or use a hand trowel .. to FIND OUT,... how much moisture in the soil ... 3 to 6 inches down.. and water when it is drying at say.. 3 inches...

trees.. of which conifers are.. like a good drink.. and then near drying... and that is usually addressed as a drainage issue... for most everyone but us sand folks ... but you have to train it.. to look after itself.. and no tree in nature.. gets watered every 3 days..

of course.. at this point.. you are also dealing with the transplant but it should become free range by late this fall... but perhaps a good soak in heavy drought next year ...

get rid of the stake.. it was probably a shipping stake.. and is now useless due to the growth above..

as to wind.. well.. you either picked a tree proper from your area.. or you didnt it... i cant fathom.. trying to rig up some sail cloth.. to protect for the rest of its life ...

and i do understand.. that your place.. wherever it might be... may as well be mars to my MI ... so though i list the variables... you might want to research how to apply it to your place ...

NEVER leave a stub on a pine ... they have no dormant buds... and if you remove all the green from a limb ... that limb will die back to the next part that has a live bud on it ...

just cut one off ... in a few years.. when you have mastered all this stuff .. you can try other things .. but on some level i think you are a newb.. and need to understand elementary things.. such as pruning.. before you go jumping to master thesis theory in pruning ...

finally.. its a tree.. a conifer.. but it is not a child.. it doesnt NEED to be fed ... ever ... nor educated.. nor clothed.. etc ...

if you think something is lacking in your soil.. have a soil test done thru your county extension office... and act accordingly ... but dont just willy nilly start doing things that may or may not be necessary ... i see a lot of things growing in your pic.. that i presume have never been FED in their lives.. and that means your soil is not so sterile as to not be able to support plant life ... all that said.. you did no harm with such... my point it.. it probably wasnt necessary ...

enough for now.. good luck.. dont overthink it all.. and dont try to love it to death ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

RE: Too many Leaders.

Thank you all for your 'Food for Thought' replies. I did some research on Air Layering and found it an interesting concept. However would it damage the branch any to devoid it of pine needles at and around the invasive point of the cut?

I have an 8 year old Aleppo Pine which also has multiple leaders but neither my wife nor I are capable of doing anything at 16+ ft.

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