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Our landlord planted a beautiful Santa Cruz Hibiscus in the front yard, Zone 9b, its natural habitat more or less, which grew into a small tree. The main trunk has a nice iron rod stake. Of the three main branches, one died last fall, so I felled it this winter, hoping to make space for a new one.

Unfortunately, we had excessive wind today and one of the other branches fell off and the last branch snapped off the main trunk. The branches are no more than about an inch and a half or so in diameter.

I staked it with a spare curtain rod and a couple of garden stakes and multiple tie-straps to try and shore up the branch as best as I could. The wind was pretty much trying its best to stress the branch cyclically and take it down, so I ran off to our local hardware/garden store (Orchard Supply Hardware) in the hopes of finding a magical cement or glue that would help the stem.

They had no such thing and told me to write of the branch/tree. My brother found some people using "Gorilla" wood glue and I had already picked up this thing called "Plastic Wood". I brought it back, and the gorilla glue of course was less viscous and so that just flowed down, so I applied the plastic wood copiously, but that also didn't seem to do much.

I am a bit "stumped" as this is the first time I have had to try and save the last branch in a tree. Does anyone know quick fixes/bandages that I can buy and/or use?

  • I have accepted Jim's excellent answer, but if anyone has thoughts, please feel free to share. – Srihari Yamanoor Feb 3 '16 at 7:27
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You cannot 'save' the branch if it has completely separated from the plant. This is possible only if the branch is still connected by a strip of bark (and cambium). It is possible to graft a severed shoot onto a woody plant like this, but this requires some well-practiced skill as well as some luck. It may also possible to root the broken stems, but this requires rooting hormone, a humidity tent, rooting media (well aerated soil), and maybe even a heating pad as well as some luck.

I suggest that you cut the branch stubs so that they are clean cuts and not splintered and then worry about something else. It is sad to have this happen, but the plant should send out new shoots this spring and should not be worse for the wear.

Then, I think you should think about occasional pruning to keep it from again becoming such a lanky, injury-prone plant. Pruning will stimulate one long branch to be two (or more) moderate length branches, not only giving you a stronger plant, but more flowers! Occasionally harvesting blooming stems for a vase in the house is a good way to ease the 'trauma' that I am guessing you'll feel about pruning.

  • Thank you. The one branch that hadn't separated is still standing, and still has live leaves and even a flower, though it has just been roughly 2 days. It already put out some shoots before all this, but from the base. At least that will let the plant keep on living, hopefully. I will take your advice on rooting and give it a shot anyway. You have been very thorough to someone relatively new to trees. – Srihari Yamanoor Feb 3 '16 at 7:25
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    I have grafted severed apple branches back onto the plant. It's not impossible (at least for apples) – J. Musser Feb 3 '16 at 23:46
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Cut the branch off even with the tree trunk. If its not any larger than 1/2" in diameter, another will grow back. It will die if it's completely separated from the tree.

  • I used an old curtain rod and two stakes, multiple tie straps, wood glue and wood plastic. So far, the one branch, whose base is a little over .5 inches in diameter is holding, even after a few other high wind events. Thank You for responding! – Srihari Yamanoor Feb 21 '16 at 7:58

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