Time to Check Those Tree Stakes

Spring is the time of year to check trees supported by stakes

April 9, 2021, 10:31 am | Jeffery Iles

Tree stakes.AMES, Iowa Staking is a common and sometimes necessary practice used to stabilize (not immobilize) a newly planted tree as it becomes established on site. But stakes are only temporary and typically are removed six months to a year after planting. 

This is the perfect time of year to inspect all trees still being supported by staking materials.  

“Most backyard gardeners understand that trees grow taller and sometimes wider each year, but many are unaware that the woody framework of a tree, its trunk and branches, also grows, but in width or diameter,” said Jeff Iles, professor and chair in horticulture at Iowa State University. “So-called secondary growth allows woody plants to put on a new ring of xylem — water conducting tissues — and phloem — tissues used for sugar transport, each year. This diameter increase is barely noticeable, unless something wrapped around a stem or branch impedes the growth, causing constriction. Trees can recover from constriction or girdling if caught early enough, but if neglected or unnoticed, plant death can occur.”

So remember, trees will increase in diameter as growth commences in spring. Therefore, is important to remove or loosen staking materials from around the trunk before girdling or constriction occurs. 

A girdled tree can be severely injured or die from damage to important vascular tissues that operate just below the bark. This is also why it is good to remove any tags or plant labels that were on the tree when purchased. 

For more information, Iles can be reached at 515-294-3718 iles@iastate.edu.


Original photo: Tree stakes.

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