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Mending a Split Tree

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Question:

I have a three year old Crape Myrtle (Tonto) that has a fork at it's base. The tree split and fell to the ground due to the weight of the water from sprinkling. I staked the split back together with heavy duty wire. Is there a type of wrap that I can use to possibly save my tree? There are three main branches that go into the ground. The tree is approximately four feet high. Although the tree is split, the main branch is still intact. I desperately want to save this tree. Thanks.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Larry from Princess Anne, MD

Answer:

Hi Larry,

Sorry to hear about your tree. I'm not aware of any wraps for repairing splits. It impossible to say whether or not your tree can be saved, but from your description, the damage sounds quite extensive. By "main branch is still intact" do you mean the trunk? I hope so, because if the main trunk of your tree is split, the odds of it surviving are minimal at best. If over 30 to 50 percent of the main branches or trunk are severely split, broken, or mutilated, it's probably a lost cause. Your tree is small, so even the smallest damage can have a large effect. Still, if you're really attached to the tree, get some advice from a tree expert.

Ellen's awful tree story: When I moved into my current home, there was a gorgeous towering silver maple in the front yard. The tree was probably near the end of its 130 year lifespan and the trunk was split and being held together by cables. Despite that, it appeared to be healthy and beautiful in every way. The tree seemed like a guardian to our new home and it quickly became our favorite. Before we moved in our Home Inspector said the tree might be a safety hazard (especially to our neighbor's garage) and suggested that we have it removed. We called for an onsite assessment from a tree expert, who ultimately concluded there was no way of knowing just how long it would hold up to high winds or Midwest winters. We love this tree so much, we decided to take our chances. One year later we lost a "healthy" tree in our backyard to an ice storm. It fell on our neighbor's house (the other neighbors). A year after that, it happened again (same house, another "healthy" tree). I'm not kidding. After that ordeal (thank goodness for gracious neighbors), we decided that we better take down the maple with the cables. To our horror, while taking it down we discovered that the trunk was in fact, healthy. It probably would have lived for another decade or two (I cried for two days). Meanwhile, we discovered that the trunks of our two "healthy" trees had been diseased.

My advice? Call a tree expert. Before you agree to any heroic efforts, read this article entitled, "Can These Trees Be Saved?" by the National Arbor Day Foundation. http://www.arborday.org/media/stormrecovery/2_canthesetreesbesaved.cfm

It will help you determine whether or not it's worth it.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Kathie from Kansas. (Guest Post)08/20/2008

We have a big Hackberry that is splitting due to the ice storm. I have four, four inch straps on it now that seem to be working but need to be sure. The split is not big and the tree is still together in the fork of the tree is where it starts. If I have to have it removed our back yard shade will be gone. Is there anything else we can do to make it a stronger support?(

By Lynda (Guest Post)08/03/2006

Having so many Crepe Myrtles, I'd be inclined to
make CERTAIN the direct watering is corrected because the tree PREFERS longer periods of drying out, like a week between waterings.

I'd also let the damaged trunk go because they produce so many suckers that you will easily be able to replace it. The fork needs airing, and the wound needs healing, but the tree does NOT need wiring, ever, since wiring cuts into the outer layers which are essential to the tree's health. Don't fret if the other
two trunk branches are a bit older. The new branches will easily catch up with them. Four feet tall is still just a baby tree and you will do it a favor by
not giving it more than once a week deep watering,
but note: Do NOT plant it within 15 feet of a foundation, brick fence or concrete walk because the
trees can get as large as 20 feet tall and 4-6 foot
bases full of "trunks" if you desire or do not watch
it carefully, removing any unwanted stems as they
pop up.

They produce LOVELY trunk bark over time.
Remember also that the best blooms come with regular fertilizer, less watering, and fewer branches,
pruning each one as the bloom finishes and dries out, but not cutting more than that on each stem,
other than dead wood which ALWAYS is evident each
Spring.

Pruning is best done in the Fall and Spring, and know that in the South, at least, even though they are late bloomers, they bloom their hearts out with PROPER care (as opposed to too MUCH care),
watching also to remove slowly any powdery mildewed leaves and stems into a paper sack, because it is the sign of too wet or too dry conditions and each puff of the mildew spores will spread to another leaf. If done correctly no other chemical or treatment is required. If not, I believe Streptomycin for plants is the only cure.

I had to learn the hard way to be patient and NOT give the plant too much "blooming food" because it stresses the plant out. I do give it to the plant about every other year, however.

I have single branched trees, and trees with five to seven main branched trunks. I have NOT been successful keeping the so-called "weeping mini-crepes" small OR weeping, because they always seem to want to become larger and upright. They do best in full sun and moderately
fertile soil mixed with compost and some sand or
light gravel for good drainage. They will grow but not well in Black Clay soil as my state is famous for.

They do NOT make good cut flowers, in case you
wondered, do NOT have significant fragrance, AND they can be VERY MESSY as the flowers are profuse and drop daily all season once blooming.
Good luck and God bless.

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