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Stunted branches on malus Red Sentinel


I am new to this site, and am hoping to pick some expert brains!

I have just bought a malus Red Sentinel from a local nursery, which I was planning to plant as a specimen tree - photo attached (ignore the Prunus behind to the left). I only realised once it was delivered that the branches have grown very unevenly. There are three in a row on one side (right in the photo) which are v. stunted, though branches below them and above them are longer. The other branches don't exactly look very shapely, either. My question is: will the branches stay like this, or will they grow in time? In other words, should I complain or go ahead and plant?

The pot it's in is 11" dia and 9" high. The tree is 2m high. The nursery said they grew it themselves, as opposed to another Red Sentinel from a well-known tree nursery, which interestingly was of similar height but had a thinner trunk, so possibly younger, despite being same height (and which I now wish I'd bought instead).

My next question is: I have read in one esteemed famous gardener's book that Malus Red Sentinel can be grown in a patio container rather than planted in the ground. Is this viable? If so, could I do this, leaving space for a different tree as the specimen - I was thinking of a Crataegus Crimson Cloud. (I have clay soil and the position would be full sun in summer, partial shade the rest of the year.)

Please forgive my ignorance - I am a rookie!

Thank you in advance.




  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,818

    I think this tree is probably hungry and may well respond to some TLC.

    This malus can, indeed, be grown in apot but it needs to be a decent sized one - min 60cms deep and wide - and filled with good John Innnes no 3 compost mixed with a bit of multi-purpose for moisture retention.   Dunk your current pot in a bucket of water till no further air bubbles appear then remove the plant and use you fingers to loosen the roots and encourage them to grow outwards.  Plant at the same depth as before.

    It will be netirely dependent on your for food and water and will get stressed if you let it get thirsty of hungry.  You'll need to give it a generous dollop of slow release fertiliser in spring and occasional liquid feeds of tomato food thru the season till mid July at the latest so any new growth has time to harden off before frosts.

    Given this encouragement it should put on new growth and may well balance out but, just in case, here's an easy guide to pruning form the RHS - 

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Jane FJane F Posts: 2

    Thank you very much for your prompt reply, Obelixx. Your detailed advice is much appreciated.


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