Growing tiny seedlings into beautiful trees isn’t at all difficult if you know what to do. In this post I hope to clear up all the questions that people have.
I know they they don’t look like much but these are Japanese maple tree seedlings. Our growers either grow these and sell them as is or they buy them from other growers. There are 20 or 25 Japanese maples in this bundle. I paid about $1.50 each for these. In the Buy/Sell Section of Our Members Area trees like this are available several times a year. In small quantities the cost a little more, but not that much.
But the question that people have all the time is once they get these things, they are like; “Mike, now what do I do with them?”
Japanese Red Maple Trees are Usually Grown as Multi-Stem Trees.
If this seems contradictory to what I’ve said about Japanese maple seedlings in the past, that’s because it is. I used to suggest cutting them back as as soon as you get them so they fill out into multi stem trees. But I no longer do that with mine. I just plant them out as is and allow them to start growing. They usually do the multi stem thing on their own without encouragement.
Just plant them and allow them to start growing. As they grow trim the tops as needed so they are balanced. It’s really nice if a multi stem tree produces at least three trunks to make for an interesting tree, but that doesn’t always happen. A tree with only two stems is just as nice.
You Can Train them Into Single Stem Trees but . . .
Years ago I had a bunch of Japanese Red maples like these in the field and we took a few and trained them into single stem trees. More about that in a minute. When I set them out for sale people grabbed up the multi stem trees first. Apparently that’s how the buying public prefers them. That was years ago and they sold almost instantly for $48.00 each. Back then I buying the seedlings for less than a one dollar each. People love plants and go way out of there way to buy them!
As you can see, this Bloodgood Japanese maple is a two stem tree now and looks great. Down the road it may still produce some smaller branches down low. For whatever reason people much prefer this look to a single stem plant. At least with Japanese Red Maples.
The Cold Hard Truth about Growing Trees.
This is how it’s really done. I buy lots and lots of tree seedlings and grafted trees. I don’t grow them from seed myself nor do I any longer graft my own trees. I’m too impatient, I like to sell my trees sooner, which is pretty much what 90% of nursery growers do. That means that somebody has to be in the business of selling the small trees! But anyway, I plant out a lot of trees, and then as they start growing I prune them according the the path that that seems the best for each individual tree. Some end up as single stem trees, some dual stem, some multi-stem.
Looking at the above photo you can see that we had this Orida Nishiki trained to a bamboo stake to get it straight, but it has since out grown the stake and is scheduled to be dug two days from now. As trees like this grow I walk through the field and prune away any branches that are growing out of proportion to the tree, or do not fall within the imaginary line that I have drawn for that particular tree.
A video about pruning Japanese maples.
Growing Single Stem Trees. How to do it!
This is a bundle of white dogwood tree seedlings that I purchased from One of My Customers in Our Members Area. Actually I bought a bunch of plants from her. I spent over $500 with just one order.
White and pink dogwood trees seem to sell the best when grown as single stem trees. Years ago I had some multi-stem white dogwoods for sale and some single stem white dogwoods and the single stems all sold before the multi-stem. They buying public has a way of telling you what they want! So let’s take a look at how to effectively get nice single stem trees.
You have Stake Tree Seedlings So they have Nice, Straight Stems.
This tree seedling is off to a good start. Single stem, fairly straight, light branching, main leader is still in charge, it’s doesn’t have other branches competing with it to be the “top dog”. Pretty easy to work with. These are the steps to take with a tree like this.
1. Plant or pot the tree, then stake it to make sure the stem grows straight and doesn’t lean over or hoop over.
2. For now leave all of those lower branches on the tree, they are helping to feed the tree through photosynthesis. Eventually they have to come off, but for now they are small and are doing the tree more good than harm. Do Not Allow them to get larger than 1/2″ in diameter. About the size of a dime. It’s best to remove them before they get that size.
When you remove them when small they don’t leave a big scar or stump on the stem of the tree. As the tree starts to make more branches and leaves up top you can remove the branches from down below, larger ones first.
3. When the tree reaches the height where you actually want the permanent branches to start, simply cut off the top of the main leader. This will stop it from growing upright and will cause the tree to set multiple buds right below where you make this cut. Those buds will develop into branches.
4. As the top of the tree starts to develop be sure to remove all of the branches on the main stem where you do not want branches.
5. Now your little tree is starting to look like a tree. Trim the top branches as need to keep the tree balanced and light pruning of all of the lateral branches will force more new growth making the tree nice and tight which makes for a desirable tree.
This movie explains some of the reasoning about pruning.
But what if the seedlings you have are not off to a great start like the one shown above?
Yeah. That’s a problem. Like this scary looking seedling.
Ignore the roots! We’re only talking about the branching of this tree. I dug this thing out of the woods only for the purpose of demonstration and it went into the brush pile as soon as we took these photos.
Sometimes the terminal bud on a tree seedling gets damaged and causes the tree to set multiple buds just below the damaged bud. Those multiple buds result in multiple leaders. That is a problem that has to be corrected as soon as you see it happening. This little tree has two leaders now and it appears that there is a third one that is also going to take a stab at being in charge.
First thing we are doing is removing the competing leader. Examine the tree seedling, decide which leader is the best candidate to be the main leader, then remove the competitor or competitors. In this case we are only going to remove the one at this time and we’ll leave the smaller, lower branch so it can help feed the tree as this little seedling finds it’s way. But that smaller branch will have go sometime in the next 12 months.
If you look at the very tip of this main leader there is something going on there that might result in more multiple leaders up there. This is something to be watched and if a problem develops, again we’ll make sure we end up with only one main leader. Our goal is one nice, straight stem.
From this point we will follow steps one through five outlined above to produce a beautiful tree. You’d be amazed a how nice this tree will be in a few years when staked and trimmed properly.
Our Members Area is Amazing! You won’t believe the deals on plants that are offered every single day, not to mention the wealth of information and help you can get at just about any hour of the day. Or the middle of the night for that matter!
Hey! Will You Do Me a Favor?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I took about three hours out of my Sunday, not to mention the time it took to get the photos to do this post and I’m asking you do me the favor of sharing this with your friends via Email and Facebook. I truly would appreciate that! Thank you!
Questions and comments are always welcome, just post them below and I’ll check back!