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I planted a grafted apple tree in a pot and shortly thereafter realized the graft union is about 5-6 inches above the soil line. My gardening books and online searches recommend the union be no more than 3 inches above the soil line.

Will it harm the tree if I leave it as is, or should I stop being lazy and replant it?

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If you are worried about it, put a 6' diameter circle of topsoil mixed with compost around the tree to a depth of about three inches. I do not recommend replanting as this will set back the tree. My method will actually speed up the maturity. It works especially well if you maintain a 1" mulch of organic matter around the tree. One of my trees has the graft about 6" above ground and it is fine without any protection.

  • Do you have to be careful about burying the tree's flare? A common problem with domestic trees is that they get buried at their base. 1" of just mulch is probably okay as the mulch will break down - but it is something to be aware of. Come to think of it, adding a small mulch layer as suggested would be better than townsean's suggestion of replanting (which implies more burial!) – winwaed Dec 6 '11 at 13:57
  • Come to think of it, I think that's why I initially planted the with its union so far up. I didn't know the term for that was tree flare. Learn something new everyday. :) – Ashley Grenon Dec 6 '11 at 18:11
  • Yes, leave a small ring around the trunk so you don't bury the root flare – J. Musser Dec 31 '14 at 21:52

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