The Q&A Archives: Care For Sick Mimosa

Question: I 'rescued' a mimosa tree that is about 3-4' tall with a 'V' trunk. Last summer it was doing quite well and thriving, then it got attacked by gophers in late summer when we were watering in a small area around it. We transplanted it out of gophers way, but it is barely alive, with small buds way down near the base forming. I don't want to give up on it because it's alive, but should I prune it back, or what? I think about the last 2' of it are dead, so will it be ugly forever or can it grow more trunks?

Answer: Sounds like that poor mimosa is really trying to survive, so why not give it a little more time? Prune back the obviously dead parts of the plant, and encourage any new shoots to grow as big as they can. As they develop, the new shoots can be trained into new trunks. You can gently scrape the bark off the top branches or trunks to see if they're dead or alive. Live wood will have green tissue just below the bark. If the tissue is brown, prune the wood back until you find live tissue, even if this means pruning it all the way down to the ground. The new shoots should develop into new trunks and eventually you'll have a new mimosa tree.

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