The Q&A Archives: Storm Splits Young Tree

Question: A young redbud tree,planted just six months ago, has suffered its second assault. First, playful kittens broke the tree, so I lopped off the top third. The tree then produced two branches opposite each other. A storm this week caused the tree to split -- a vertical split of several inches, with one branch on each side.
How should I deal with this?

Answer: Unfortunately, this type of damage is common on a "double trunked" tree because such a tree is intrinsically weak. In a sense it is probably better that it happened while the tree is young rather than large enough to cause serious damage upon breaking in half. There really is not too much you can do to salvage the tree in its current form. You basically have two choices. One would be to remove it and replace it, the other would be to cut it off at ground level and see if it will resprout from the roots next year. This second method will result in a multitrunked tree which rebounds relatively quickly due to the established root system. It will never, however, be a "specimen" and may eventually suffer a similar form of damage to this instance. I'm sorry about your tree!

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