Sassafras Seedling - question regarding die back

mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

I have a new seedling I purchased last
spring that was shipped to me bare root. I potted it but didn't get the
Sassafras seedling into the ground last fall. I left it sitting in the
same spot in it's pot all winter. This spring it began to put out new
leaves. I moved the pot and later, noticed the new growth beginning to
die back. Finally picked up the pot to see if something was attacking
from the bottom and lo and behold, I had dislodged roots that had
escaped the pot when I moved the pot. Got it planted but the top has

About half of the trunk appears to still be green. I haven't
decided if I should cut out the dead top and see if it will put out from
the trunk or just leave it to see if it will put out new growth
somewhere along the lower part of the trunk that appears to still be

Should I cut out the dead portion of the seedling?

Comments (3)
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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

When roots are lost or pruned, then it's generally good to balance things out by removing some of the above ground parts of a plant. If you don't do that, the plant will often shed leaves or die back so that it can concentrate what reserves it has on a smaller set of leaves and branches. If it were me I think I would cut the top back a little at a time and stop when I thought I was getting into living tissue. Can you post a photo?

The big question will be whether there are enough energy reserves left in the roots to keep going. It might take a while, because the tree is going to want to focus on root growth at first. You may see only a few leaves this year.

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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

These photos may not show up very well but I'm happy to provide them. At least, on the one where I tried to show the tiny trunk, you can see green up about half way. The top is totally dead, I am sure. Should I cut it back to the green wood? I don't care if it takes a while to recover but I hate to waste another season. My bad for not getting it planted last fall. ... My thanks for taking a look. Mary

clicking on photos may enlarge them:

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

Hmm -- my thought would be to leave it as is, or at most cut a bit off the end of each branch in an effort to stimulate back-budding. But I'd get some advice from someone more experienced with trees. Hopefully wisconsitom, a regular on this forum, will see this. You might also consider cross-posting it to the Trees Forum, which is much busier.

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