Arbutus: My poor tree...

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by Alison, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. Alison

    Alison Active Member

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    Can anyone hazard a guess as to what might be wrong with my tree? I'll be devasted to lose it... All the leaves droop, seem to be wilting and gradually turning brown.
     

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  2. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well it seems to have very few leaves for the size of the tree to begin with. There's not an awefull lot you can do to help these along. Typically these will molt older leaves during summer months while new leaves come on. Are the branch tips still healthy?

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm sure staring at mine a lot. We have some nice ones. A couple have trunks over 40" in diameter. One is 5' wide or so near the base.

    We had a tremendous amount of leaves dropping this summer. Sort of the normal thing, but more than I recall last year.

    Every now and then, I see a branch's leaves wilt, but the main part of the trees seems to do just fine.

    It seems more a matter of what not to do to them, than what to do.

    Its one tree I never add soil around and avoid gardening under. I just clean up a little and let it be.
     
  4. Alison

    Alison Active Member

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    I'm despairing somewhat- the tree looks more brown and pathetic each day. It is about three feet from the sidewalk, and I wondered if it could be dog pee that is affecting it, but everything else that grows closer to the sidewalk is thriving...
    Heartbreaking...
    I will leave it be and hope it looks better next year, but I have my doubts. There are lots of dried berries on it, so I will try to salvage some of those. Thanks for the input...
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sounds like its dead. Arbutus have a reputation for doing this; take some root samples and have them tested for Phytophthora root rot.

    Unlikely to be dog pee, but any lawn irrigation nearby can make the soil too wet for them, and encourages Phytophthora.
     
  6. Pat Crossley

    Pat Crossley Member

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    Hi, Did you ever determine what was happening with your tree because we have a 14' young tree which has the drooping, hanging leaves just as your photo shows.

    Look forward to your response.

    Pat Crossley
     
  7. Alison

    Alison Active Member

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    It grieves me to report that my tree now looks totally dead. It is totally brown. When I started to take it down, I noticed that the trunk is cracked in several spots quite deeply. Whether that is because it has been dead for a while and dried, I don't know... heart-breaking.
    The only consolation is that I could not bear to just get rid of the wood, and when I posted it in the "free" section of Craigs list, many people had uses for it, from carving to parrot perches... but it still breaks my heart.
    It is very hard to see and know that this beautiful tree, one that I loved growing up as a child on Vancouver Island even before I became interested in plants, is in decline.
    I hope that you have better luck, wish I had some advice for you!
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yep, that's from drying out after death.
     
  9. Pat Crossley

    Pat Crossley Member

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    Alison, thank you and I too feel sad that your tree did die.'
    My young tree is still hanging in but the leaves just hang - will hope for the best.
    Pat
     
  10. Alison

    Alison Active Member

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    I'm not one to give up...
    If the problem was lack of mycorrhiza (sp?) is it possible to supplement this?
     
  11. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Alison--the special species of mycorrhizae adapted to ericacious plants like arbutus are not produced commercially, so there's nothing you can just buy at a garden centre for this purpose.

    On the other hand it could be helpful to gather a bit of debris from the soil surface (under the leaf litter natural mulch) of healthy arbutus growing wild in this area. This will likely contain fragments of the correct fungi which can be carefully probed into the rootzone of your plant, thereby colonizing it's roots if they aren't already.

    Also try to duplicate the natural "mulch" which encourages fungal growth in the root zone...a very coarse mulch similar to the dropped arbutus leaves would be preferable to something more dense that would tend to reduce the oxygen getting to the roots...always the arbutus loves lots of air/good drainage around the roots.
     

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