What Is a Whip Plant?

When you're crafting a new landscape for your outdoor space, or reconfiguring the existing landscape, you'll likely encounter a lot of new terms, especially if you're installing young fruit trees and other plants. One such term that may be unfamiliar is "whip" or "whip plant." What is a whip plant? In this post, we'll discuss the question and review the care necessary to ensuring that your "whip plants" remain healthy and strong.

Defining the Whip Plant

Basically, a whip can refer to any slender young plant that doesn't have branches or offshoots yet. In the domain of forestry, a whip is the term people use to reference a very young tree that has no branches as of yet—basically a seedling. Often, whips come in the form of young fruit trees, so if you're considering installing a fruit-bearing tree in your yard, you will likely encounter this term.

Usually a young tree that qualifies as a "whip" is around 1/2 inch or 3/4 inches thick. When you first see a whip or whip plant in a tree nursery, it looks pretty much like a stick. It may have nodules or dormant buds that can be nipped off or pruned as needed. Once you plant it in your space, it has the potential to grow into just the shape you want.

Care of Whips

Most whips must be carefully pruned to induce branching in the right places. This is most often the case with fruit trees such as pear trees. They are purchased as whips and painstakingly notched or pruned to prompt branching. The branching enables the crown of the tree to spread wider, so more sunlight filters through and more fruit can be borne.

To ensure that your young tree or whip remains stable, you may need to tie it to a support stick, a bamboo cane, or a stake of some kind. You can also support it and guide its growth by encircling it with stiff tubular plastic that you can cut away later once the tree is stable and has branched in the way you want. The tubes also serve as rabbit guards to prevent tiny teeth from gnawing away at the young trees, hedge starts, or other bushes that you just installed.

Why Buy a Whip?

Some people prefer to buy slightly older, more mature fruit trees because they are older and should start to produce fruit sooner. However, there are distinct advantages to buying a whip instead. They're usually cheaper, less likely to have already contracted some pest or disease, easier to transport and install, and much easier to shape and guide in the way you prefer. When you buy a whip, you'll be able to closely monitor its health, encourage growth, and ensure branching in optimal places so you will one day enjoy a bountiful crop of fruit.

At Kurtz Bros., we're happy to provide all the tools and supplies you need to install your whip plants, including rich soil, mulch, spades, rakes, and more. You can also call or email us with all your landscaping and plant health questions.

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