Q: In early spring we planted three redbud trees. The bottom one-half of the trees leafed out, but everything above that point is dead. Can I prune that part off and still have good growth or do I need to start over?
A: I think you can help the trees recover. Gently scrape the bark along the upper trunk. If it’s brown underneath, that part is dead, but don’t cut it off just yet. Often a lower limb can be trained to become a nice top. Select a semi-vertical branch and splint it to the existing dead central trunk with a few pieces of cloth. Snip off dead twigs along the trunk. If all goes as planned, the limb will head skyward and you can remove the cloth and the dead trunk in two years.
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