Help! broken main stem of hybrid dogwood

we had a little storm roll through and the main stem on a new stellar pink hybrid dogwood we planted this spring broke. pictures attached. it is still hanging on by a thread. is there any way I can reattach the main stem (maybe with grafting tape) of should I just cut it away and hope it comes back in the remaining 2 small stems next spring? the wife and I are very disappointed as it was a mother’s day gift. besides a bit of sun scald in August it was doing so well.


I’d probably just try to tape it back up with grafting tape and the support it with shims and more grafting tape if it were me. What do you have to lose?


It appears to me that something was chewing it’s way around under the bark. Inspect closely for insect damage.


I’d go with the two stems you have left. The tree won’t die and it will probably send up a new shoot that you can train up.


i had a cherry break just like that. put it back up with 2 16in bamboo splints held w/ elect tape then wrapped it all in parafilm. 3 months later it had healed and you couldnt even see where the break was.

@JCW has a good eye…
It does appear to have a dogwood bore tunnel around that break.
If it were mine I would cut off below the damage , letting those 2 branches to grow . Inspect for more bores .

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It isn’t rare for me to have a young tree topped by borer damage weakening the thin trunk. Borers can be difficult pests to control with over the counter insecticides and sometimes the main damage is done by the time you know they are there.

Sticking some kind of straight post in the ground and using electric tape, first to attach a short splint to the break and then to tie the whole thing to the post doesn’t take much time and is probably worth the effort if the cambium hasn’t been completely girdled by the borer all the way around the point of the break.

Otherwise, the existing roots should inspire vigorous regrowth that will need to be directed with pinching and said post to keep the tree growing straight with a dominant leader.

I’ve successfully splinted branches like that, but in this case, the weight of the leaves and branches above the break, in any wind, would seem to be a problem. I’d think you’d have to trim those way back - which would leave you in just about the same place as with the two existing branches.


That is one reason why I recommended staking the whole thing. If there’s enough surviving cambium that weight includes energy producing parts that will hasten recovery. A stake that runs well above the break can secure the tree from wind.

Would you trim back at all?

Only if leaves were wilting after taping everything up. The only time I tend to cut branches back for stability is when a mature fruit tree tips over. That and pears when I get them as whips wholesale. I don’t do as others and cut bare root trees way back upon planting. I’m in too much a hurry to get things above the deer browse line. Most of my nursery is not fenced from deer- nor are the majority of sites I install instant gratification orchards.

Carl Whitcomb’s experiments convinced me that pruning back young trees upon transplanting is more likely to slow establishment than speed it, although he did not experiment with fruit trees. If trees have fruiting spurs or are inclined to very early fruiting, cutting back may speed establishment by reducing energy invested in fruit and flowers. I also think it can with trees with “non-fibrous” roots or devoid of extensive feeder roots such as pears.

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