Elm Trees

Elm Tree Top Died Back–how to Establish a New Central Leader?

pinecone00 added on June 21, 2017 | Answered

I planted a 4 ft American Elm (var. \\\"Princeton\\\") sapling on our rural residence last year. It grew to 8 ft. Then we had a very cold winter and spring and the top and all the main branches died back to 4 ft! I pruned the dead trunk back to the first main branch, which I trained up to vertical position. But it has no apical bud. Will ever become the main leader? If not, what should I do? I considered grafting, but none of the main branches have apical buds either. The tree looks green and healthy, but doesn\\\'t seem to be growing. I\\\'m located in NE California at an elevation of 4,300 ft. I know American elms grow in places as cold as N. Dakota, but we can freeze any month of the year, and spring cold snaps are common. Is it likely to die back again next winter? Thanks!

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on June 23, 2017

Since this injury is fairly new, I would give it another season to see how things shape up.


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Answered on June 24, 2017

Thanks for the answer.

If it's botanically possible for the branch without
an apical bud to become the new leader, then I'm happy
to wait. Is it?

To be clear: I need a shade tree, not a bush. Watering
this tree is costing me money (generator, well). That's
why I asked the question. I could have come up with
"wait and see" on my own.

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