Smokebush destroyed by snowplow
As a result of an overagressive snow plow driver, whose truck hit my purple smoke tree with ice chunks this winter and broke many of the branches, I wonder how deeply I can prune this tree? Many of the branches are splintered or broken at the base, so just by removing those alone I will be left only with a couple of main stems which will make the tree longer and slimmer in shape. My key questions are this: can I prune all main branches and leave just the base of the tree in order to encourage a bushy shape? Or will that stress the tree too much in which case I am left just saving two sides of the tree that will make it look funny in the short run?
Emmet County Michigan
I would leave the healthy branches in place so the root system gets some food this season. If this is a long established tree( 4 or more years), the root system is more extensive has more food stored than a newly planted tree(3 years or less).
Watch for new shoots developing and as they do, prune back your main older branches by about 20-30 percent. This will slow these older branches while the new sprouts grow. It will take a few seasons to recover. Give the tree good care by watering during droughty times. You may consider moving the tree if its location puts it at the same risk each winter.
Here is a reference for you that shows pruning and transplanting steps, should you need it. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5368392.pdf
Thank you for using our service.