New Cherry tree dying? (Help!)

Discussion in 'Ornamental Cherries' started by Morainy, May 6, 2011.

  1. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Hi... I do not have a green thumb and have never planted a tree before. I've looked after a big yard with a mature garden for 20 years but am a rookie when it comes to planting.

    A few weeks ago, my husband and I planted an Akebono cherry cultivar from the Vancouver Cherry Blossom festival. It seems to be dying. The blossoms died, of course. There are some new leaves at the end of some of the branches, but some branches have no leaves at all. It looks horrible.

    We did follow the instructions on the planting video, dug a good sized hole, bought good soil for it, watered it but not too much, we think. Some of the leaves are curly and have what look like insect holes on them. It's in the middle of the backyard with a western/southern exposure -- full sun.

    At the same time, we bought a dogwood, a magnolia, two witch hazels, some lilac bushes and a few other plants from a local nursery, and planted them as well. We also moved a weed Mountain Ash three feet over (to replace a tree that had fallen over in a snowfall). All of these trees and shrubs appear to be thriving.

    Have we killed our beautiful cherry? Is this dead-look normal for a newly transplanted Akebono? Do you have any suggestions! I'd really appreciate them because we are completely clueless here. We're clueless but not careless and we do want to make sure our tree is healthy and happy.

    I've added a photo -- post #7.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Cherry trees must have good drainage. If you replaced the soil that came out of the planting hole and the unchanged original soil around the hole is on the damp and heavy side, it way be shedding water into the hole and drowning the tree.

    Always refill planting holes with the same soil that came out of the hole, without modification.
     
  3. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Hmm, that must be it. I dug the hole, then filled it with good earth and some original soil mixed in. It might be collecting water, especially as we've had a lot of rain. The original soil is heavy. Deeper, there is clay.

    Should I dig it up again and put the old (rather horrible) earth back in? Or is it too late to save this tree now? We only got it in April during the Cherry Blossom festival.

    By the way, thank you Ron B for responding so quickly and helpfully to my first post! I've never asked anyone a gardening question before (aquarium plants excepted).
     
  4. Tree Nut

    Tree Nut Active Member

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    Did you ever see the tree fully leafed out? If it was water logged I would expect the leaves to be yellowed. Small holes in the leaves are probably insect damage. Without pictures i would say you bought a poor quality tree (branches without leaves, insects overwintering causing holes in leaves, possible fungal damage causing curled leaves, etc.). These are common in some poorly kept tree nurseries.

    I wouldn't disturb it and see how it does as it is still early...
     
  5. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Thank you, Tree Nut. This afternoon I will try to post a photo of the tree. It looks like this forum will allow that.

    The leaves that have appeared at the end of the branches are not yellowed. But some branches have no leaves at all. They had blossoms, though! I thought that the blossoms would turn into leaves. :-)
     
  6. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I wonder what planting technique you used with the other plants
    Did you plant them the same way as you did the cherry?
     
  7. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Hi Sundrop,

    I planted this tree the same way as the other trees. The other trees are all doing much better than I expected, with lots of leaves now.

    I've attached a photo (from my husband's cellphone). I hope it shows the shape that the tree is in. I tried to take some close-ups of the leaves and a distance shot, but they turned out too dark.

    You can probably see that at the ends of some branches there are new leaves that weren't there when we got the tree. But otherwise, the tree looks dead!
     

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  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    When you pull it out be sure to observe the condition of the roots and planting hole back-fill soil. As the roots go, so goes the top.
     
  9. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Thank you, Ron. I'll do that. I'm not sure what they looked like to start with, though.

    One of the witch hazels that I planted had very little root at all. Left half the soil in the pot (the other witch hazel, a different kind, had roots growing around the core of soil). But it seems to be doing very well.

    I feel quite sad about this cherry and hope that it will still pull through. If it doesn't make it, maybe I should try a different kind of tree there. Any suggestions? South & west exposure, full sun ... ground can get quite wet in the rain because if you dig down, there's clay. But we do have drain tiles nearby.
     
  10. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    It looks like your soil is the culprit. Cherries do not tolerate heavy, poorly drained soils, but you have both. Sorry to say this, but in this situation I don't think your tree can recover. Be watchful of the other plants because they like good drainage, too.
    Are you sure the drain tiles work well enough? Do a drainage test.
    In the future chose plants that are tolerant of heavy soil and poor drainage. Pay also attention to the soil acidity/alkalinity requirements of the plant you are going to buy.
    Do you mean it was root-bound? Hope you untangled the roots and trimmed if necessary before planting it.
     
  11. Tree Nut

    Tree Nut Active Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    After seeing the pictures, yes your tree is dieing. About the only way you could grow it in your yard is in a raised bed if all your soil is as heavy and wet as you say it is. If you plant it in a raised bed you could probably still save it, but it would probably never be happy. Do any of your neighbors have cherries?
     
  12. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Hi Tree Nut and Sundrop. Yes, my neighbour has a cherry tree on the other side of the fence about 25 feet away. And we had a cherry tree (mature and old) on the spot where we planted this one. We took it out in 1993 when it came down in a storm (ant damaged).

    The soil on top is top soil, not too bad, but below that is pure, solid grey clay. I can make a raised bed. But I think I'll try to save this tree by moving it to a raised bed on the side of the yard where right now we have herbs.

    Re: plants that are root bound. I am a bit worried now. Several of the trees and shrubs that we planted had roots wrapped around them inside the pot. Were we supposed to cut them off? I guess it's not too late to go back and do that. They look good right now, though.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    You can find modern procedure(s) for planting of root-bound (and otherwise) potted or balled stock on the web pages of Linda Chalker-Scott. Searching her name brings them up.
     
  14. nvgardener

    nvgardener Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    I too am having problems with my new Akebono Cherry. It has a few leaves on it but they they are quite yellow and have brown spots on them. They fall off when touched. Our soil is quite heavy, so I am thinking it could be a drainage problem. Should I just wait until the weather dries up a bit and see if it recovers or move it now. It has only been in the ground for about six weeks.
     
  15. Justine M

    Justine M Active Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Well, I'm another person whose cherry tree is shedding its leaves just a month after being planted. And it is also an Akebono from the Birthday Blossoms people.

    I've planted several trees in the past three years and this is the first time I am having trouble. The soil the tree is planted in is well drained.

    I planted the tree in a pit that used to have a six foot tall rhodo in it. I amended the soil with bone meal, compost, sea soil, and new garden soil. I watered the tree with transplanting fertilizer also. I did not make the soil higher than the tree experienced in its pot. The yard has a very slight slant to it and many thriving rhodos and azaleas. I believe it has received adequate water. I planted in a sunny - part sun location in my front (south exposure) garden a week after picking it up from the Gardenworks parking lot.

    I was away for just five days and when I came back yesterday 75% of the leaves were on the ground. The remaining leaves are on the tips of the branches.
    They were still on the tree six days ago!

    I checked the leaves on the ground and they have orange spots on them and rather 'large-compared-to-the-size-of-the leaves' holes.

    Really curious to know if my description of the leaf damage points to something related to the nursery treatment of the trees, given that already three people from this spring blossom festival sale have posted on these particular trees.
     
  16. cybergirl

    cybergirl Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Add me to the list of people who are having problems with an Akebono from the Birthday Blossoms event. It was covered in blossoms which died out in due course. Now the tree looks pretty dead except for a few leaves at the tips of some branches. Although I have planted several trees in my yard over the years including a dogwood, a mountain ash, a mimosa and a golden locust (which are all doing well), I followed the instructions on the Tree Planting video on the VCBF website to ensure I was doing everything right for the new tree.

    I also bought a Kanzan at the same time and planted it the same way in the same yard and it seems to be doing fine so I am inclined to believe that the problems with my Akebono have nothing to do with the soil or drainage or planting technique.

    Like Justine, I am curious to know whether this is something to do with where the trees came from. Also, would the VCBF people be interested in looking into this issue given that the problems have occurred only with Akebonos? Surely there are other people who are facing the same problems but simply haven't discovered this forum.
     
  17. Justine M

    Justine M Active Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Hi Cybergirl,

    I've been in contact with the folks at Birthday Blossoms Cherry Trees and this is what my contact there wrote back:

    "I've asked the director about the returns policy and whether we have someone who will deal with questions about the trees. I'm sure she will get back to you."

    The contact there was the one that directed me to the forum thread in the first place so they will probably see your posting as well. I have faith they will help. I'll let you know what happens...
     
  18. cybergirl

    cybergirl Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Thanks, Justine. I was planning to contact them through their website but you're way ahead of me! Anyway, keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully they will come through for us. I know some nurseries (GardenWorks for one) will take back a plant/tree even after a year if a client has had problems with it.

    Do keep me posted. Cheers!
     
  19. Justine M

    Justine M Active Member

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    Yes! The "Green Thumb Guarantee" that Gardenworks offers is outstanding!! Will let you know the outcome...
     
  20. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Re: New Cherry tree dying? (Help!) photo added, post #7

    I'm just checking in to say that we're still working on getting an answer here. I'm not convinced that the grower's statement that "the problems that I have heard to date are very typical of what cherries do especially in a cool wet spring" and "I think that what is needed most at this point in time is good hot weather to get leaf buds going and patience" is the answer, but maybe it is. I'd be more convinced if there was a more specific response to the leaf drop and dead leaf issue.

    I just wanted you to know that the questions are still being looked at.
     
  21. Justine M

    Justine M Active Member

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    Thanks Wendy. Hopefully we'll know soon. If I need to replace that "front and centre" tree in my front yard, I'd like to do it before the transplanting time of year has passed...
    jm
     
  22. cybergirl

    cybergirl Member

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    Thanks for the update, Wendy. Like Justine, my tree is also front and centre in my front yard and makes a very sorry picture right now so I'm hoping we get answers soon.

    In the meantime, I'm on my knees praying for "good hot weather"....!!
     
  23. Justine M

    Justine M Active Member

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    I just took a bunch of photos of the leaves in case it helps the growers assess what's happening to the trees. I'm certainly no expert but I wonder if it might be red spot?
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2011
  24. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    After consulting the grower and two landscape architect directors on the VCBF board, Linda Poole, the VCBF Director, has sent me this to post. With respect to how is your tree doing, the answer below is "If the cambium is still green they still have a chance to leaf out".

     
  25. Morainy

    Morainy Member

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    Thank you for posting that information, WCutler.

    A gardener came by to look at my tree and said that it was planted well and the location and soil are good for it. Her opinion was that the tree itself is likely infested with something but that the main problem was probably that it was either not watered while it was waiting to be sold, or roughly treated.

    Every leaf has died, but there are tiny nubs forming on some of the branches, close to the trunk. The gardener thinks I should just pull the tree out and dispose of it but I think I'll give it a summer and see what happens (as a friend suggested).

    The other trees that I planted: dogwood, magnolias, witch hazels, and the shrubs are all doing quite beautifully right now, so overall things are good.

    I'm not much of a gardener, but I am not sure that I agree with the Cherry Blossom people that "if the tree bloomed when it was bought; then it was alive." The tree had blooms on it when we bought it, but then died immediately. This seemed similar to putting cut flowers into a vase of water -- yes, they have blossoms on them when you buy them, but they're not going to grow. That said, the tree was inexpensive and the festival had to distribute a lot of them. A certain failure rate is probably to be expected.
     

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