When is the right time to remove your supportive tree stakes?
A lot depends on the tree species and how fast it grows. Other factors include soil type, potential exposure to strong winds, and the size of the tree when planted.
So how does one know when the tree is ready to have the support of its training wheels removed?
A visual assessment of a tree to identify a thickening trunk will indicate that the tree is developing support mechanisms. A very tall but thin trunk is probably not ready to cope in high winds and will require more time supported. A vigorous canopy a year after planting is a good indication the roots have developed beyond the potted root ball and are anchored in the ground.
Large planted specimens may need staking for longer as the roots grow and find their way into the ground to anchor and support the larger frame.
A tree that has signs of wind damage or limb breakages could mean it’s not ready to be left on its own.
If you are unsure your tree is ready to have its support removed, then you could remove 1 or more stakes and leave the one that supports the tree on the prevailing wind side. You can then revisit the need for this stake next year.
Think of a young tree as a newborn baby…like a tree the baby needs to build up its muscles to support its head first and then the rest of its body by first crawling and then walking. It just takes a bit of time.
In the forest, trees have the support of other plants as they grow from a seedling…in the garden, you need to supply this support until they can do this on their own.