I planted an oak seedling last year, it is doing great but I have a concern
about wind. Where I live it can get windy especially in spring and during
storms. The seedling's trunk at the base is only about 1/2-1inch in diameter
and the leaves are in a ball at the top, which is about 7-8 feet tall. I
stake it to about 4ft but now the top sways like a poodle's tail in a dog
show. Will my seedling grow to be crooked? I have several other trees that
have grown to look like they had been planted by the Piza designers in
Italy. So I am not a nut. Please help.
First, let the oak grow almost like a shrub, with multiple stems. This
is the way many seedling oaks grow. Allow it to grow this way for 3-5
years, until the stems are at least as thick as broom sticks.
Then, when the stems are stiff, select one to keep (generally, the most
upright of them). In the late winter or early spring (depending on your
climate), head the stem you are keeping and remove the others. The best
time is while the tree is dormant, about 4 weeks before new buds break.
Live oaks and other evergreen oaks do go dormant in that they seem to
stop growing; cut these about 4 weeks before new growth resumes.
Although oaks are considered slow to grow, a young oak can grow 3-4 feet
a year. Even at that pace, getting a full grown tree from an acorn
takes much patience. It is almost 30 years since I picked up the acorn
that is now the oak near my driveway. The trunk is now over 18 inches
in diameter at chest height. The tree is about 30 feet tall with a much
wider branch spread. A sapling from an acorn from this tree is in a
nearby park. (The ash tree in my back yard is about 5 years older. Its
trunk is almost 3 feet diameter -- twice the oak's diameter -- and is
about 50 feet high. But long after the ash tree is firewood, the oak
will still be considered young.)
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
All the acorns that sprout in the woods around me only have a single stem.
The only time I see multiple stems is when the main leader is cut close to
the ground. Oaks are pretty sturdy and maintenance free. Letting your 7-8 ft
tree sway, rather than staking it, will actually help strengthen it and help
it grow upright. Any Pisa-like tilt will work its way out over time.
Rapid Realm Technology, Inc.
In a protected environment that might be true with eastern oaks.
Western oaks might start as single-stemmed seedlings but become somewhat
shrubby as saplings. (The original post failed to indicate a location.)
Even in the east, however, rodents and insects might find the leader
to be very tasty. The result is shrub-like. In nature, the tree will
eventually grow with a single trunk despite any such trauma -- if it
survives at all. Then, the other low branches will die back and fall
A garden is NOT nature. We can huury things along (but not much). To
get strong shoots, head them (the same way nature uses a rabbit). Once
a well-placed, strong shoot is identified, remove the others without
waiting for die-back. This might take 5-6 years in the garden versus
10-20 years in nature.
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