Bad Breaks

Broken branch of a crape myrtle

Sometimes in gardening, as in life, we experience bad breaks. We don’t intend for these to happen, they just do. Whether caused by too much stress, mistakes, or happenstance the only power we have over these breaks is to clean up and hope for the best. Such is the case with one of my crape myrtles planted along our property line border. The crape myrtles have a beautiful watermelon red color when in bloom but the recent rains have left their branches heavy with moisture.  Add to that a dash of wind and you have a recipe for a bad break. The crape myrtles broke off right at a branching point (or crotch) where two of the major branches were joined.

Here’s a closer look at the break point.  The joint is split down the middle which isn’t good because it leaves a large gaping opening for pests and disease.  It also prevents the cambium layer of bark from transmitting moisture further up the branch.

Fortunately the aesthetic impact of the broken branch is minimal. I removed the branch with a bow saw and tried to make the cut as clean as possible. It was difficult because of the location. Truthfully that branch probably should have been pruned off in the spring. Often you can prevent bad breaks from happening with proper pruning.  The wound should heal over time.  The bark will slowly grow over the wound and eventually close it up completely.  It’s very similar to what my deer damaged trees have done. All of the deer damaged trees that survived through the first year of wounding are doing very well now. (If you have deer in your area protect your young trees now from the deer rubbing that happens in the fall. Here’s how I prevent deer from damaging my trees.)

Of course a smart gardener always tries to make lemonade out of lemons or in this case new trees out of cuttings! I snipped off 12 appropriate semi-hardwood cuttings from the fall branch and began the process of rooting them. Hopefully they will root and grow into strong crape myrtles to plant next year.

Yogurt cups make a good container for rooting cuttings.

How has the wet weather effected your garden?

3 thoughts on “Bad Breaks

  1. TC

    Hi Dave, sorry to hear about the bad crepe break. But it looks like you've turned it into something good with all those cuttings! While in Kentucky several years ago I cut a crepe myrtle sucker from my mother's bush/shrub/tree and brought it up here. I have it in a pot where it don't flower, but stays green as a houseplant all winter. They say there are crepes hardy to zone 5 but I've not done an extensive search to find out where I can get one. Mom's has white flowers and she says the Japanese beetles love it!

    I hope your veggie garden was productive. Ours did fairly well. I grew six different kinds of heirloom tomatoes this year, I have the names written down somewhere. Most everything is done now, and fall is just around the corner, sadly. There's never enough growin time here in the northeast!

  2. Lola

    So far we are ok in the wet dept. as this is our monsoon season. It was about to get too dry. I had to drag the hose around for my containers.
    I have a crepe that is part red {which is what I wanted} & part dark pink. Red on bottom, pink on top.
    Striking color combo. This is the first yr it bloomed that way. We'll see what next yr brings.

  3. Alexander

    Your posting is very interesting for me. Well, my hobby is gardening and I am always excited if there discussing about the plant because for me, the plant is part of my life. In addition to beautify the home, also can save our world from global warming.

Leave a Reply