Last spring I brought home a few coast live oaks. I repotted them in early May and found that they responded well to the work (see “Repotting out of season“). Here’s what one of the trees looked like last week.
Coast live oak
I did, however, notice that most of the new growth was on the top half of the tree. Many of the lower branches had died or become weak since the repotting.
Strong growth near the top of the tree
Dead branch lower down
From the side, it’s easy to see that the lower, back part of the tree has become weak.
Because many of the old primary branches were long and straight, and because the new shoots were concentrated near the apex, I decided to significantly reduce the primary branches.
After reducing the primary branches
If all goes well, the tree will produce new shoots from the trunk and from the base of the remaining branches. I can’t say that I have strong expectations about how the tree will respond as I haven’t tried such an approach with coast live oaks, and when I’ve done this on related species like cork oak, I made sure to generate lots of healthy roots before getting started.
I’m curious to learn what’s possible with oaks so I took a similar approach with several other trees. I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond. My current guess is that plenty of shoots will emerge from rough areas on the trunk. I don’t expect as many new shoots to emerge from the smooth areas – the places where I’d most like to see them – but I’m hopeful there will be a few. Will report back when I know more.
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