Think Twice Before Staking Newly Planted Trees
Break out the shovel and get busy planting. Fall is a great time to plant trees. The soil is warm and the air is cool, reducing transplant shock.
And once the tree is properly planted resist the urge to stake the tree in place. Trees allowed to sway in the wind develop a thicker and stronger trunk. They also have a more developed root system increasing their stability and ability to withstand wind damage.
Staked trees tend to grow taller, have thinner trunks and poor root development. Once the stakes are removed the tree is more subject to breakage and toppling.
Only stake bare root trees, those subjected to extremely harsh winds, or trees with an extremely small root system and large canopy. If the tree must be staked, use stakes no more than 2/3 the tree’s height, secure the tree to the stake with flexible materials, and remove within the first year.
A bit more information: The scientific term for long term changes in a plant’s appearance due to repeated touching is Thigmomorphogenes. Repeated even gentle touching and wind can cause stouter stems in plants. Some avid gardeners use a fan to circulate air and increase the stems on transplants grown indoors.