How to correct a leaning tree (young and newly planted)?

Asked September 30, 2020, 3:36 PM EDT

I planted a young apple tree (currently about 5 ft) this spring shortly before several wind and heavy rain storms. I didn't stake the tree after reading many articles suggesting that it wasn't necessary for shorter trees and even detrimental to tree strength. The tree developed a lean, but I didn't attempt to correct it during the hot summer months. Now that we're in the fall, what is the appropriate way to correct the issue? Should I dig it out and replant or stake it with diagonal braces? Should I be concerned about the grafting site if I stake? Thank you!

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for your question. It is not too late to stake the tree so long as the trunk is still bending. You are correct in observing that staking for more than one growing season prevents the plant from becoming tough enough on its own to survive, relatively upright. But your sapling sounds newly planted enough to do this. Just don't pull it so far that you break it. The graft is the most vulnerable part, so attend to it as you install the stakes. Here is an Extension article on how to do it: https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/staking-and-guying-trees

Good luck!