Laidback Garden Tip of the Day

Do You Really Need to Stake a Tree?

octobre 3The tradition has it that it is important to stake all newly-planted trees and conifers to keep them upright, but in reality, staking a tree is not particularly good for it. A tree trunk needs to move in the wind, because that is what allows it to develop normally. In fact, it is the movement of the trunk in the wind that makes it become thick and sturdy (regularly swaying back and forth causes tiny injuries that fill with more solid tissues, giving a thicker and stronger trunk). A trunk that does not move or does not move enough will remain thin and weak and may actually snap when the stake is removed. So reserve staking for special situations where either the young tree really doesn’t seem strong enough to stand on its own or spots that are extremely windy. And even then, stake quite loosely (not like in the illustration) so the trunk can still move a bit… and remove the stake after a year at most. In most cases, though, it really isn’t necessary to stake a young tree.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Laidback Garden Tip of the Day

  1. Interesting. So it’s like bones and muscle in the human body. Don’t use them and lose ‘um. Never thought of it that way but it follows a logical path.

    • Excellent allusion. And you’ll find that – as illogical as that may seem – trees exposed to wind on a regular basis will have the strongest trunk of all.

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