Let’s say you planted a bunch of seedlings earlier in the spring and didn’t give them tree tubes – either because you hoped you could get by without them or (more likely) you hadn’t heard of them.
Well now it’s late June and things have changed. The surrounding grass and weeds, which had barely starting growing when you planted our trees, are now two or three feet tall and threaten to completely smother your seedlings before they even get a chance to get started.
You have also noticed that many of your seedlings bear the telltale signs of animal browse – either the neat clip of rabbit browsing or the rough rip of deer browse.
In other words, you realize that the success of your project – and all of your hard work this past spring – is at stake in the next month or two.
The question is: Can you install tree tubes after the seedlings have been planted for a few months?
And the answer is: ABSOLUTELY! There is no bad time – no wrong time – to install tree tubes. When it comes to installing tree tubes the only rule of thumb is: Today is better than tomorrow, and next week is better than next month.
Applying tree tubes midway through a growing season allows you to provide excellent weed control, either with herbicides or mechanical / manual cultivation, without damaging your trees. It also protects them from animal browse, so the foliage can keep producing carbohydrates to feed the roots which will fuel faster growth next year.
When you put a tree tube over a seedling in mid growing season you might not see an immediate jump in growth; the leaves that grew without a tree tube are “stress leaves” – well conditioned to conserve moisture in stressful, windy conditions, but not optimized to take full advantage of the low stress conditions in the tree tube. However, you will see a dramatic growth spurt with the next flush of new growth – and you’ll see that new flush will have larger, thinner, brighter leaves designed to take full advantage of the perfect conditions in the tube.
So you see, there really is no bad time to apply a Wilson Tree Tube!