The Q&A Archives: Tree Mostly Crushed By Heavy Snowfall

Question: We planted a Chinese Dogwood (Chinese Strawberry) tree in October. Over the winter we broke a 120 year old snowfall record (over 21 ft. of snow). The tree was not protected, and now that the snow is gone we can see that it was heavily damaged. There are only a few branches intact at the bottom of the tree. I'd estimate about 80% of the branches were broken off. What do you think its chances are for survival and what can we do to help it along?

Answer: Well, plants can be amazing in their survival techniques, but there are two main factors to consider: 1. With the loss of so many limbs, it has lost much of its ability to photosynthesize and provide nutrients for growth. 2. The broken branches will have left open wounds which provide easy entry for pests and disease.

Make sure the tree has adequate water that reaches through its entire root system so that it is not stressed for water. I wouldn't recommend fertilizing at this point. Trim off any broken stubs, etc. Don't leave stubs and don't make flush cuts, both of which allow easy entry for pests and disease. Also, don't seal wounds with any paints or sealants. The tree's own healing tissue will do that. Leave the remaining branches. The fact that they are at the bottom of the tree is good. Lower branches help a trunk develop girth and stability. Leave them for several years, at least, until you determine if the tree is going to survive. Good luck!

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