The Q&A Archives: Can I Save my Red Maple?

Question: We have a young red maple, about four feet tall. Last summer, something attacked the leaves and this year, there is only one small branch towards the bottom that is still alive. Will cutting off the rest of the tree prompt it to come back? Thank you. Jorie Shepherd

Answer: If you are sure the top of the tree is dead, cutting it off will give the new sprout a chance to grow into a new tree. Cut back the branches on the top of the tree and look for live tissue - it will be green in the middle of the cut. If there's green, that branch is still alive, as is the trunk. If the tissue is brown, that branch is dead. Keep cutting back until you find green tissue. If you can't find any, the entire top of the tree is dead and you can prune it off. Best wishes with maple!

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