Multi-stemmed trees in a garden on a foggy day.

How to Grow Multi-stemmed Trees in Your Garden

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.

When to plant: Late autumn.

At their best: Winter.

Time to complete: 3 hours.

You will need: One tree, 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 rootball is slightly proud of 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 is 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.


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.

Tips: Planting options

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: Eucalyptus, Himalayan birch – Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, Snake bark maple – Acer davidii, Tibetan cherry – Prunus serrula, Hazel – Corylus, Willow – Salix.