Red bud tree is growing tall and spindly

Asked July 23, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT

I received a free red bud tree this spring through a program sponsored by BGE. I received basically a 3 ft twig. I planted it on the small front lawn of our row house and I put a ~3 foot sleeve (tree trunk protector) around it. I wanted to protect if from snow in the winter. It is planted where we put snow that we have shoveled from our walkway and side walk. It is now about 7 or 8 feet tall and very thin. What should I do? Remove the sleeve? Can I cut off a few feet? Thanks in advance for your help.

Baltimore Maryland

3 Responses

Your redbud is growing exceptionally well. It is not unusual for saplings to be tall and thin, especially when they are reaching up to get sunlight. Yours may have shot up so quickly in order to get above the trunk protector so the leaves can get light. Do not cut it back. Now that it has room to send out side branches, it will begin to do so more next year and in subsequent years as it matures. This is normal.

It must have leaves to survive, so don't cut them off. You probably don't want low branches on your tree anyway, so the fact that it is starting to branch at 3 feet from the ground is good.


Thanks very much. This is a great service. I feel much better now. Do you think I should stake it as well - for support and to straighten it a little? Thanks again.

In general newly planted trees do not require staking. Research has shown that the natural movement of the trunk by the wind actually stimulates root growth and increases trunk size more quickly than trees held firm by staking. If for some reason the tree does not seem sturdy after planting, or if the site is very windy, staking may be needed for the first season. Allow enough slack in the supporting wires for some trunk movement. Use pieces of rubber hose over the wire to prevent damage. Remove the stakes after the first season. See our publication "Planting Tips for Trees" for more information