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2 thoughts on “Ask The Arborist Forum

  1. We had a sapling kousa dogwood that was planted last July and did not make it. We decided to purchase a more mature 3 year old kousa dogwood this year and had it planted by the nursery. We have been watering twice a week and used 2 Jobes fertilizer spikes which was the recommended amount for a 5-6 foot tall tree. 6 weeks later and we are having the same issue we had with the sapling last year. All the leaves have turned and fell off. Is it hopeless for this tree at this point or is there something we can do to bring it back?

    1. Having not been present at the time of planting or seeing the tree currently makes it challenging to pinpoint what caused tree mortality. Young tree planting failure, within one year is typically the result of inappropriate site selection, poor planting practices, immediate aftercare or a combination of these. Kousa Dogwood is tolerant of full sun and partial shade, so lets focus on the other two. Potted or b&b trees need to be handled gently and by their base, one strong yank of the trunk or branches could tear roots which the tree might be lacking if it was recently dug and roots outside the rootball are cut. Planting holes should be dug no less than twice the diameter of the rootball or pot top, 3-4 x diameter is even better. The planting hole walls should be scratched to eliminate shovel glazing and all plantings should be back filled with a mix of compost, native soil and very mild organic starter fertilizer. Planting depth is often mistaken, just as you see branches emerging from the trunk you should just barely be able to see roots emerging from the plant base once finished with planting, often time excess soil is built up against the trunk causing trunk rot or adventitious root growth from the trunk. All wire baskets, burlap, twine, nylon string, etc. must be removed from the top half of the rootball prior to backfilling as these prevent plant growth. Mulch is extremely helpful when installed correctly but should never be piled up against the trees trunk. New trees should be watered throughout the first 2-3 years post planting but only when the plant needs it, typically mid-June through mid-October and a slow drip is recommended to moisten soil gradually, rootballs now a days typically have a high volume of clay which is much slower to moisten than native soil. Excess water entering the planting hole will drown the plants root before the water has time to percolate through the more compacted surrounding native soil. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

      Sincerely,
      Christopher Busak
      ISA Board Certified Master Arborist NE-6576B
      NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional

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