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How to Repair Damaged Plum Tree Bark

Updated February 21, 2017

A tree's bark, such as the plum tree, is more than just a protection for its trunk. Tree bark is also an integral part of the tree's vascular system. Some trees will live for years after developing fungus and weakened trunk systems because they have healthy bark and vascular systems. Although damaged tree bark cannot heal on its own, you can repair the damage to plum tree bark using a bridge graft.

Trim the bark from above and below the tear in the plum tree with a grafting knife to make it smooth. Remove the jagged, frayed bark to within an inch of the sound bark.

Make an incision into the bark of the plum tree that is 2 inches long above the tear using a grafting knife. The incision should start at the point where the bark is torn away and extend into the healthy bark.

Lift the edges of the incision with a screwdriver.

Make a second 2-inch long incision directly below the tear in the bark of the plum tree. The incision should be directly below the first incision in the bark. Lift the edges of this incision with a screwdriver.

Measure the tear in the bark with a measuring tape. Cut a slightly curved branch from a plum tree to use as a scion. A scion is a smaller branch that can 'bridge' the hole in the bark. The scion should be approximately four inches longer than the tear in the bark.

Cut a wedge-shaped taper into each end of the scion. The wedge-shaped taper should be approximately 2 inches long.

Slip the tapered ends of the scion under the bark of each slit.

Nail the scions to the tree's wood using small tacking nails and a hammer. Use care to avoid crushing the scions. You can use a nailset, which looks like a small ice pick to avoid damaging the wood. Simply place the tip of the nail set between the nail head and the wood. This will prevent you from driving the head of the nail into the wood.

Nail the flaps of the bark to the scion using small tacking nails and a hammer. Nail your bark to the scion carefully to avoid damaging or crushing the bark. You can use the nailset to avoid driving the head of the nail into the wood.

Cover the flaps of bark and scions with an asphalt grafting compound. This will protect the scion while it heals into the bark.

Trim the bark from above and below the tear in the plum tree to make it smooth. Remove the jagged, frayed bark to within an inch of the sound bark using pruning shears.

Measure the vertical length of the tear in the bark.

Cut a slightly curved branch from a plum tree to use as a scion.

Cut a wedge-shaped taper into each end of the scion. The wedge-shaped taper should be approximately 2 inches long. Cut a straight, smooth face onto each tip of the scion.

Cut a notch into the bark on each side of the tear that is the same size and shape as the scion's tapered ends. The scion should fit into the tear so that each end fits into the notched cuts in the bark of the tree like puzzle pieces.

Tack the scion into the bark using tacking nails. Be careful not to crush the scion or the bark of the tree when you do so. You can use a nailset to help protect the tree as you tack the scion.

Coat the scions with asphalt grafting compound to protect them.

Tip

The best time for a bridge graft is during the spring when the bark of a tree will easily lift from the tree's trunk. Use an L-Cut for trees with thin bark and an inlay for trees with thick bark.

Warning

You must place bridge grafts every two inches around the tree to properly protect the tree's vascular system. You can use a branch from the same tree, or another plum tree. The scion must be taken from a plum. Grafts made with scions from another species of fruit tree will not successfully heal together.

Things You'll Need

  • Grafting knife
  • Screw driver
  • Measuring tape
  • Tacking nails
  • Hammer
  • Nailset
  • Asphalt grafting compound
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About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.