You’ve seen them on the web. Pink tree tubes. Blue tree tubes. White tree tubes. Green tree tubes… a virtual rainbow coalition of tree growth enhancement promises.
Thousands of words have been written discussing what is the best color for a tree tube or grow tube. You can see why: Color is the most visually obvious way that one tree tube manufacturer can differentiate its product from the others.
So which color is best? The short and honest answer is: We simply don’t know. Based on my nearly 22 years experience with every color of tree tube under the sun, I believe we can say two things with confidence:
1) Tree tube color is, at best, the fourth most important factor in determining the performance of a tree tube… and it’s a distant fourth place at that. Much, much more important are:
a) Diameter. The larger the diameter, the more total biomass growth
b) Ventilation. Vented tree tubed provide more CO2 to fuel more photosynthesis more of the time, and the air exchange minimizes side effects like winter die back and foliar fungi development that hinder growth
c) Total light transmission. Not surprisingly, light is good! If you have two tree tubes that are identical in diameter and ventilation but are different colors with different levels of light transmission, the more transparent tube will outperform the more opaque no matter what colors they are
2) Everything else being equal the difference in growth between tubes of various colors seems to be insignificant
One thing I have learned about tree tubes after all these years is that they constantly surprise us by proven long-held beliefs and conventional wisdom wrong.
In general I believe you want a grow tube whose light transmission curve most closely mimics full sun. As it stands the differences in light transmission curves – the transmission/absorption of various wavelengths of light – for the different colors of tree tubes are much more similar than you’d expect (hence the similar performance).
Just as there have been giant leaps in greenhouse film technology to manipulate light transmission to optimize growth and yield, I am sure there are many advances in tree tube design in the years to come.
But at this moment, I’ll put our Tubex Combitube Treeshelters up against any tree tubes on the market!