Second Chance for a Damaged Tree

Updated: Apr. 24, 2020

Have you ever had a favorite damaged by a storm or severe cold temperatures?  Was the damage so bad that

Have you ever had a favorite damaged by a storm or severe cold temperatures?  Was the damage so bad that the tree had to be cut down?

This is the story of a beautiful tree that was  growing tall and strong in the backyard of my sister’s farm.

That is until abnormally cold winter temperatures hit.

This normally, evergreen Sissoo tree suffered severe frost damage.

In fact, the frost-damage was so bad that the entire tree had died.  (You can see my brother-in-law and I holding onto the dead tree in the picture, above).

We waited a couple of months before we took down the tree, hoping that part of it had survived.  But, when spring arrived, there was no new green growth on the tree trunk or its branches.

BUT there was some green growth.  A few small tree suckers (branches) were growing up from the base.  You see, the entire main part of the tree was ‘crispy’ and dead.  But, the base of the tree, underground, was alive and sending up small sprouts (suckers).

Since this tree wasn’t grafted, I knew that the new branches had a chance to grow into an new, beautiful tree, identical to the first.  So, I talked my sister and brother-in-law into simply cutting off the dead tree and keeping the largest of the small branches that were growing from the base…

It was tiny compared to the original tree.  But, we were hopeful that it would grow and replace the part of the tree that we had lost.

**You may wonder why we didn’t just replace the tree with a new one?  Well, there are two reasons.

1. Why spend money for a new tree if we didn’t have too?

2. The small sucker (branch) had the large root system from the original part of the tree, while a new tree would have a smaller root system that would take awhile to to grow.  And so, a brand new tree would actually take longer to grow then the small sucker left from the original tree.

Hard to believe?

This is what the little branch looked like after we staked it…

Look at the little branch 14 months later…

Isn’t it incredible?  You would never know that the original tree had been cut down just 14 months before.

So, if you have a damaged tree that has been cut down with the roots still intact – wait to see if any suckers (small branches) begin to grow.  Then select the largest one and stake it and wait for it to take off and grow.  **This only works for trees that have not been grafted onto rootstock.  Suckers that occur below the base of the graft, will grow into a completely different tree then the original one.

One of the things that I love most about gardening are the ‘victories’ like this one.  How about you?  What kind of ‘victories’ have you experienced in your garden?