Good Gardening: Damaged Trees

Mar 4, 2019

Credit John Fischer

This may not come as a surprise to you, but my fruit trees know more about weather forecasting than I do.

Two years ago my peach and nectarine trees bloomed in February, and despite some frosty spring weather, the trees produced a bountiful crop.  This year the flower buds have just started to swell, and flowering is probably a month off.  Nature knows.

That doesn't mean your trees don't need your help to thrive, and stay alive during times of winter weather.

First let's talk about what you should have done before our twin snowstorms.  Prune back vulnerable branches, and brace the tree as the city has done with the venerable rose garden cherry.

During the storm you should have knocked the snow off before it got heavy enough to break things.  My neighbor was out at 3 am and 7 am cleaning a six-foot-tall bonsai-ed pine.

Since most of us did not do the pre and during activities, we are left with tipped and broken trees.  Don't assume the worst.

My quince tipped over during the ice storm and I stood it back up with a come-a-long and a few braces.  The braces broke during this snow storm, but I will tip it up again, and brace it better.

I had a large apple- 60 feet tall- tip in a snowstorm ten years ago.  The neighbor had taken off all the branches on their side of the fence, so the tree was poorly balanced.  I left the tree down, and pruned the lower branches, and now have a 20 foot apple tree that is easier to pick, and still produces a fine crop of juice ready Gravenstein apples.

A split branch is usually a lost cause, but if you really love the missing limb, try tying it back in place- maybe it will heal.

Now I wonder what kind of summer we'll have this year.  I'll go ask the peach trees.I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.