The Q&A Archives: Rejuvenating Cold-Damaged Flowering Plum

Question: My 3 year old flowering plum looks dead. It started to bloom in late March and early April with the onset of warm spring-like weather. But then there was a cold snap. The flowers and little buds that were there got frozen. To this date, there has been no activity. I have scratched the branches with my thumbnail to see if there is any green underneath--there is not; however, at the base of the tree are some suckers/shoots. Is my tree dead or do I need to be patient? Is there something I can do to assist the tree to recover? Thanks for your reply. Carole Garden Valley, CA

Answer: Sorry to hear about your cold snap! Treat the tree with care, making sure it does not suffer from drought or other environmental stress, and you may be able to rejuvenate it from the suckers that have sprouted. However, if it was a grafted tree, the suckers may be from the rootstock and not the variety you purchased, so in that case, it may be better to start all over with a new tree. Some mild fertilizer, such as dilute seaweed/fish emulsion may help get the new growth going. If no more buds form and grow within 4-6 weeks, you can prune back the dead wood.

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