I took a walk today and noticed my little eastern white pine with the
twirled needles lost its top foot - we had a bit of an ice storm earlier
this week, and I'm betting someone carelessly whacked it as they passed
walking down the sidewalk. It was only about 3 1/2 -4 feet before - now it's
about 2 1/2 feet tall. Can I tie up one of the side branches to create a new
leader? Has anyone else tried this on a small conifer? I've done it with a
deodar cedar, but they often have die back in the leader, which pines
normally do not.
Yes, this is a good idea. The leader is formed by "apical dominance"
which means the highest terminal bud gains control. If you can position
the end of one branch at least 3 to 4 inches above any other terminal
bud, it will gain dominance quickly and, after a couple years, your
white pine will look fairly normal again. Otherwise, if you do nothing
you risk having several branches seeking dominance and competing with
My experience is as a Christmas tree grower. We are constantly cutting
off terminal buds and inducing other buds to seek dominance. That is
the way we prevent large spaces between branches.
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Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA
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