The Q&A Archives: Weak trunk/root system

Question: My Vossii Goldenchain (Laburnum x watereri 'Vossii') is 10' with a 1-1/2-inch trunk. Healthy. But at the ground the trunk is very weak, needing a three-way tie-down support. How can I help strengthen the trunk and root system? The tree has been in the ground here for two years now, in a heavily clay soil which is giving great life to other decorative trees. I can submit a picture of the trunk at ground level if that would be halpful for diagnosis and recommendations. Last year the tree chained beautifully. This year was about 70% the performance of the previous year.

Don Parker
PS--I beklieve this may be a Monrovia product

Answer: You are so lucky to have a plant that blooms! This is not an easy plant to grow well, many people never see blooms at all, so you must be doing everything right or have a truly favorable location. It takes time for a plant to develop caliper and strength, so it is somewhat a matter of patience. It may also reflect how the tree was pruned and trained. Without seeing the tree it is difficult to say specifically, but at this point you should be sure you are not overfertilizing it as this can cause excessively fast and consequently weak top growth. You might want to work with your local county extension to run some soil tests and make sure there is nothing unusual there as well. Also, remember to loosen the ties regularly to accommodate its expanding girth and thus try to avoid damaging the bark. Your county extension and/or professionally trained and certified nurseryman may also ahve some suggestions based on seeing the tree and being familiar with the growing conditions where it is planted. (We are unable to accept photos through this service.) Best of luck with your tree!

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