Arborvitae bending under weight of fruit and rain

Asked June 24, 2013, 6:51 PM EDT

Hello, I planted about 27 Brandon Arborvitaes approx. 6 years ago - they went in at six feet, they are 10-14 feet now.

Live in Chicago area, while we got some snow this year, I was out there after every storm knocking the snow off and they looked great in spring. We've had a lot of moisture this spring/summer, and the trees have gone through a bit of a "growth spurt". Unfortunately, as they are fruiting heavily and dealing with the storms we've had, many of the branches are now bending outward, almost looks like snow damage, but it's the weight of the fruit and water from rain that seems to be causing this. Aside from that, they are in great shape. Should I attempt to cut out some of the bending leaders? Or, tie the tops together and hope they straighten out after the fruits drop? I used to tie them together before winter with heavy yarn up on the tops to keep snow out, removing the yarn in spring. However, over the last few years, they've gotten so big, I just get out after big snows with a straw broom and knock the snow off and have had no problems.

Any suggestions you could provide would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

Kendall County Illinois

1 Response

It is difficult to unbend arborvitae and other such evergreens after heavy snow, rain, or fruit load bends the limbs downward. This Michigan article does offer some suggestions: .

I would try strapping the bent limbs up towards the trunk now. It may take a couple of years, but as the branches add new wood, they should be able to hold themselves upright...until the next snow.

You may have to allow nature to take its course, and deal with less-than-perfect plants. Northern Illinois gets too much snow to reliably grow such a tend and delicate evergreen.