Growing Multi-Stemmed Trees

You can buy multi-stemmed trees, which require no further pruning — or you can coax a single-stemmed tree into developing multiple trunks.

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Himalayan Birch Contrast DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited The peeling white bark of these Himalayan birches provide a beautiful contrast to the ferns and astilbes below.

Some trees have particularly beautiful bark, and you can create a dazzling effect by encouraging them to develop multiple stems. This involves some drastic pruning, but the end result is well worth it. Some trees are better suited than others to growing as multi-stemmed specimens, so if you are unsure, ask before you buy. The following species can all be grown in this way:
Himalayan birch (em>Betula utilis var. jacquemontii)
snake bark maple (Acer davidii)
Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula)
hazel (Corylus)
willow (Salix)

When to Start: Late autumn
At Its Best: Winter
Time to Complete: 3 hours

Materials Needed:

  • one tree (see options)
  • spade
  • fork
  • organic matter
  • pruning saw
  • stake
  • tree tie

Prepare the Ground

Dig out a planting hole, as deep as the root ball, and at least twice as wide. Puncture the base and sides of the hole with a fork. Mix a little organic matter into the excavated soil. Plant your tree so that the root ball is slightly above the surrounding soil surface, using a stake to check the planting level. Backfill with soil, stake, then secure firmly with a tree tie. Water well.

Planting and Staking

You can buy multi-stemmed trees, which require no further pruning, but it's cheaper to buy a single-stemmed tree and prune it yourself. Ideally you should give it a full growing season first, then the following winter, cut the trunk to the ground, and remove the stake.

Pruning in Early Spring Helps GrowthEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited


New stems will appear from the base in spring, and become the new framework of branches. If there are many, prune them selectively to promote a good shape. Water the tree freely the first year after planting and the year after pruning to help it recover. Feed with a tree and shrub fertilizer in early spring.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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