We recently had a major winter storm that brought at least 15 inches of heavy, wet snow. It clung to the branches, breaking some and bending others to near breaking points. If you’re suffering similarly this winter, there are a few things you can consider to help your woody plants.
The first thing to do is to be proactive. Even before the storm subsided, I went outside and started shaking the branches to clear the snow. Put on your hoodie! Otherwise, the snow can hit your neck. For shrubs and small trees, shaking the central stem clears the snow from the entire plant. For large trees, individual branches must be shaken.
A good tool for snow removal is a bamboo stick, the longer and thicker the better. Some hardware stores and feed and grain stores have them. I used it to remove snow from unreachable branches.
So what can you do to repair cracked or broken branches? In general, nothing. Use a sharp saw or lopper to push the branch back to its original location (main trunk or large branch). But if you can avoid it, don’t turn the flash on in the trunk. Also, don’t leave stubs. Need to rot back in the branch collar to heal.
The tree heals itself with something called a branch collar. Branch collars are bulging areas at the base of each branch. If you align it to the trunk, it will be difficult to heal and it will take time. Branch collars often have ridges or rings that should be left alone.
Two winters ago we had a big snowstorm that split a small leatherwood shrub (Dirca palustris) down the middle. The amputation was not complete. The junction of both halves of the shrub was still there. I didn’t notice the damage for a few days, but when I did, I decided to try and fix it.
Grafting is a well-known but difficult skill that allows a skilled person to add branches to a living tree. This is most often done on fruit trees to allow the orchard to add other varieties of apples to the tree.Since the original tree had other varieties grafted onto it, I wanted to give him three different flavors. have apples To tell the truth, the tree became like that. I’ve taken transplant classes and tried to do it, but have never been successful. It’s an art.
But back to my little leatherwood tree. It was still hinged at the bottom of the break so it was put back together and using some stretchy green plastic tape he wrapped the two halves together. and lo and behold, it worked! The tape (usually used to tie flower stems to stakes to keep them from snapping in the rain) was removed after a few months. can’t see Only a few scars remain.
What else did Arashi do? The small willow grove I planted 20 years ago is almost flat. It is a kind of willow called “Hakuronishiki”. Very popular, these willows have tricolor foliage (green, white, and pink in part of summer) and grow quickly. There is nothing I can do for them. They’ll bend over and get heavy with snow, but they’ll be back in shape after the snow melts in a week or two. And if they don’t grow back? Cut off bent stems and let them grow again. Willow is hard to kill and should have been cut short long ago.
The storm also brought down a large wild black cherry (Prunus serotina) tree on our property. Black cherries do not produce cherries that we can eat, but birds do eat them. Really, not a lot of food for everyone. The flower is also not important, but it is a good plant for pollinators, his one of the keystone species.
The tree we lost was 14 inches in diameter at the base and over 67 feet tall. I measured it after I knocked it over. It wasn’t planted by me, but perhaps birds dropped seeds in our forest. Once cut for firewood, count the rings. The place where it grew is a good example of where trees should not be planted.
So what’s wrong with our tree? Most trees don’t have taproots that go deep into the soil. 2 feet is probably average. But they spread widely. In gardening class, I was asked to think of a tree as a wine glass on a dinner plate. The plate represents the root system, and the wine glass represents the trunk and branches.
But ours was growing right next to a rock ledge that was actually appearing above ground. There was. Winds came from all sides and blew away the piled snow. So if you plant trees, be careful with bedrock and ledges. keep away from them. Before planting, you can use a steel rod or crowbar to poke the soil and find a ledge.
I miss that big tree, but I try not to grieve over dead plants. After all, it gives us the opportunity to plant something else there. We wish you all the best.
Henry Homeyer lives and owns a garden in Cornish Flats, New Hampshire. He is the author of four of his gardening books and a UNH master gardener. Contact him at PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746 or email email@example.com. Include SASE if you want an email response.