Customer Question:
My spruce tree top broke under the snow load from this winter. Will the tree die? I would like to save it if possible.
-Clay

Garden Show Answer:
Thanks for the good question. First of all, the tree won’t die because of the broken top. Without some help, though, it will have a strange looking top and it probably won’t become the shape you want.

Here’s what you can do to replace the broken top by creating a new leader.

  1. Make a clean cut, at about a 45-degree angle, slightly above the next whorl of lateral branches that are below the break.
  2. Select one of the strongest laterals and splint it into a vertical position.
  3. Shorten, by half, all the remaining laterals below the new leader so they don’t compete with it to become the ‘leader’.
  4. Use a flexible splint, like bamboo and connect it to the trunk using a soft tie.
  5. Plan to remove the splint and tie after one year to avoid restricting growth and killing off the top with the ties.

The picture below will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Good luck with the tree! Please let me know how it works for you.

02202017_how-to-create-a-pine-tree-splint