The Q&A Archives: staking a newly planted tree

Question: I planted a jacaranda tree a month ago. It came in a 24 in. box and is about 12 ft. tall and tied to a stake that is almost 7 ft. tall. It is planted in a slightly windy area, however, the Santa Ana winds can be very strong at times. I have read some articles about trees not growing well due to being staked. Should I remove the stake? Also the stake is a bit loose, so if it stays, can I hammer it down further into the hole to straighten it without hurting the roots?

Answer: What you've read is true; trees that are allowed to sway with the breeze usually develop a more extensive anchoring system as the roots spread out. However, Santa Ana winds can be almost gale-force so I think some advance planning is in order. If it were my tree, I'd remove the wooden stake and stake the tree properly to help it grow upright. Here's how: You'll need 3 stakes (metal or wood, about 10-12" long) and some wire. You'll also want some rubber tubing (available at Home Depot) or a few lengths of old garden hose to string over the wire to protect the bark of your tree. Pound the stakes into the ground 4-6' from the trunk of the jacaranda, in a triangle. Each of the stakes will be individually attached to the trunk with the protected wire so the stakes should be equal distances from each other. Attach the wire firmly to the stake, wrap it around the trunk 3-4' from the ground (be sure the tubing is situated so it keeps the wire from digging into the bark), then take it back to the stake, wrap it around the stake and then wrap the end of the wire around the first wire (the one that's pulled tense up toward the tree trunk). Do this with all three stakes, making sure there's equal tension on all wires and that they are firmly attached but not so tight as to pull the tree in any single direction. There should be a little play in the wires, so the tree can move a bit, but not too much play. Be sure to check the loops around the trunk every month or so and loosen when necessary so they won't make marks in the bark.

Best wishes with your jacaranda - they are gorgeous when in bloom!

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