Serviceberry tree help - half of it looks dead - what should I do?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Mahonroy, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. Mahonroy

    Mahonroy New Member

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    Hello, last summer I planted a serviceberry tree in Colorado. It seemed to do well all of last year and the beginning of this year. Recently I noticed that a large branch appears to be dead? I am not sure what I should do here - do I chop that branch off, leave it, do something else, etc. It seems like its going to look really weird if I chop that branch. I should also mention that people said there was a late frost in the Spring time this year, and it caused a lot of trees all around town to look really messed up - e.g. a lot of trees aren't growing much leaves, especially upper leaves, and they are growing a ton of suckers instead. I don't know if this caused this branch to get weird. It looks like there are dried berries on this branch, so I don't know at what point this happened, or why.

    Some additional info: I have a drip system that waters everything every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday morning. It waters for an hour, then waits an hour, then waters one more hour, then is done. I recently checked the PH of the soil and its at 6.8.

    Here are some photos. I put green arrows on the photos to show the dead branch:
    20200802_134626.jpg 20200802_134639.jpg 20200802_134653.jpg 20200802_134712.jpg

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Mahonroy good afternoon, the PH is fine, what isn't is the over watering and the heavy stones you have all around the base of the tree.
    IMO you should remove all the stones around the drip area of the tree, these are causing compaction of the soil and not allowing the roots to breath. There should be a mulch, I prefer bark but any light mulch will do, but no stones.
    Watering should be once a week thoroughly and not twice a day every two days. It is being drowned IMO and possibly has root rot due to being constantly soaked. I know you were told by the nursery you purchased it from to regularly water during the first couple of years, but that is way too much.
    Any dead wood will not miraculously come alive again. You must prune this out. It may look a little unsightly, but it has to be done and if the tree survives, new branches will shoot over the next couple of years.
    Do remove those rocks/ pebbles as soon as possible.

    Hope this of some help.
     
  3. Mahonroy

    Mahonroy New Member

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    Thanks a lot for the response. I will pull the rocks back and add mulch. Is this a general rule of thumb for all of the plants on the landscaping, or just for trees?
    Also, how would you go about pruning this? If you look at the last photo I uploaded, you can see its kind of in the shape of a "V", the left side is alive, and the right side is dead. Would you just clip the top portion? (this would leave a sliver of dead part still)
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Any dead wood can be pruned at any time.
     
  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Mahonroy, this is a rule of thumb for all trees, there should be no added weight around the drip area. I like the soil to be loose around all plants. With regards to the pruning, all the dead should be removed. (Dead, diseased or dying should always be removed). It will not look very good at all this year and maybe next, but it has to be done.
    When you remove the stones, check the soil to see how wet it is. If dry then water, but if wet do not. This is a simple rule of thumb to always follow.
    Do let the forum know how you get on, with photos if possible.
     
  6. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Are you positive the branch is dead? Sometimes branches lose leaves before dying but still have the capacity to produce more.

    If it's not too late, scrape away a bit of the bark to see if the cambium layer (just under the bark) might still be green. If so, I would wait a little longer and see if new leaves grow - maybe not until next spring. In my experience, branches often die from the tips back so yours could be dead at the top and still alive nearer the base.
     
  7. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    If there are dried berries on a dead branch, then the branch had to die this summer, not so long time ago.
    Amelanchiers are pretty tough, in my area they are invasive and it is hard to get rid of them. I meet these bushes with some dried branches (and even with dried berries on) quite often. I don't know the reason why they dry out. But usually it does not have any serious effect on a whole plant. I suggest to remove dead branches ASAP. They will not revive. That time of year it is not so easy to test if the cambium is dead or not. Amelanchiers have pretty strong bark, it is hard to scratch it with your fingernail so, that the cambium layer will get exposed. Cambium is definitely not green (color) and could be pretty dry in the end of summer after long drought even on living branches.
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    There's no need to use your fingernail; use a sharp knife instead. Please let us know if you discover the green cambium anywhere along the branch. I agree the branch is probably dead but it's worth checking, just in case.

    Besides following advice given by others on this thread, it is time to remove the stakes. Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor, Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, sets out several good reasons explaining that trees develop better if staked for only a short time - if at all. https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/staking.pdf
     
  9. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    Margot, again you are promoting these mythbusting tales of LCS! That mythbusting story about staking is more far from a science than any of Beyond Television Productions's Mythbusters series. Staking is useful, when done properly. Especially in an open urban area, where it helps to avoid damages by both wind and vandals. Staking will not fasten the height growth, on the contrary what LCS claims. Breaking or wind felling of forest trees, that have left without sheltering support from neighbours after clear felling, have nothing to do with staking.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I am one of thousands of gardeners who have great respect for Linda Chalker-Scott and appreciate her well-researched advice on a variety of garden-related topics. We have no doubt that our gardens are healthier and more beautiful as a result.

    When questions come up on these Forums that I think an article by LC-S could help answer, I will continue to provide a link.
     
  11. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    This linked LCS's tale about staking is against incorrect staking, not against correct staking. What sins you noticed from Mahonroy's photos of the staked tree, that made you to wrote your anti staking statement?
    I see, that Mahonroy is using stakes to correct unwanted bend of the trunk. On Mahonroy's photos there are no visible scars, bruising, oozing and other horrors, described by LCS. The only possible "sin" could be, that these stakes are still present on the second year after planting. But as they are there for adjusting trunk shape, it takes few more years to get permanent result in fixing trunk shape.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  12. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    Did you ever read the text from LCS you linked here? LCS talks about the three cardinal sins there.

    I just reflect some of your arguments back.

    I suggest much better text about staking, by Gary Johnson, a Professor of Urban and Community Forestry at the University of Minnesota:
    Staking and Guying Trees: Best Materials and Technique – MyMinnesotaWoods
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
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  13. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    About the "green" cambium:
    Just exactly what color is the cambium anyway?

    The innermost green part of the bark is a phloem, not a cambium.

    How does cambium layer look like on an Amelanchier tree:
    20200817_102717_1597649471468_resized.jpg
    This tree is in its full vitality and the fresh wound is made by me, to show a "green" cambium (the actual cambium is partly brownish, partly whitish). The plant will survive the wound. I usually make stakes for peas from Amelanchers, they are really very invasive here, but this trunk is too thick for that.

    And here is one of my pea stakes for comparision (this tree is definitely dead, the Amelanchier for this stake was cut down maybe ca 15...20 years ago, I have a pile of these in storage).
    20200817_105105_resized.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
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  14. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Good morning, I thought I would mention the staking of trees as it's been raised.
    About 20 years ago this was being discussed and so myself and friends gave it a try, I must also add so did councils who plant trees on verges who are always on the lookout to save money.
    The result was young trees that blew down or badly leant into roads. Now for my part my trial was Japanese Maples that are shallow rooting so this may have hindered the trial. But the council soon went back to two thick supporting stakes. Anybody reading this from the UK will confirm that all councils stake all their newly planted roadside trees.
    I continue to stake in my garden, but for TWO years only. This allows the roots to take hold and give the straight trunk that I want.
    So the point I am trying to make is that one size does not fit all and I tried the suggestions, but it did not work for me. But it might for someone else.
    I maybe a bit old fashioned, but I really enjoy hearing peoples 'personal' experiences on these forums, rather than googling a query. I do get so much more out of the UBC this way and hope that others also do.

    There is an old saying 'Let's agree to disagree '. Can this be used here!!?
     
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  15. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    @Acerholic, it sounds to me as though you and Linda are in complete agreement regarding staking. Her main point is that trees develop better without staking and, if they need to be staked initially, to remove the stakes as soon as possible - exactly what you are doing.

    I guess I could have rephrased and summarized her article but could not have improved on her message. Not only LC-S, but many, many other gardening authorities and experts agree.

    Here are just a few:
    Of course each gardener has to adapt to what each situation demands. I have at no time told anyone whose opinions they should follow and, for myself, always consider a variety of suggesions before making a decision - from experts in the field to knowledgeable people on this Forum to the neighbour. My advice to @Mahonroy that it is time to remove the stakes is in line with current thinking from many sources.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  16. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Margot good morning Margot, I am one of those people who try things and if they work for me I stick with it, but if they don't I will not, even if a gardening book says it should work. The reason I remove stakes after two years is that I found that the roots are then strong enough to support the tree. Any earlier and they are not. I might leave a tree staked slightly longer, it all depends on the individual tree. This is why I said that one size does not fit all. Saying a stake should be removed after one season is too black and white IMO.
    Over the decades I have watched so many gardening programs on TV and read so many books from experts and have found that trial and error and from listening to old gardeners has served me well and often better than what some experts say.
    I really enjoy the UBC reading all the personal stories from gardeners around the world. I think that's why people come on here, to hear about others gardens, their successes and their mishaps and to see if a process will work for them. I maybe wrong, but that's what I think.

    So I wouldn't say I am in complete agreement with Linda Chalker-Scott. Perhaps we should be saying she is in agreement with some of the gardeners of the past!!
    But there is no doubting she is an intelligent person, but I wonder if for the sake of civility on the forum, that her quotes should be left to facebook ?? Especially as she is not on the UBC forum to be able to respond herself. I have recommended her book to a very keen gardener a few days ago on the forum, as I have recommended a few other books to members, as I feel people should be able to make their own judgement on a gardening matter. It went against what I do btw, but both sides should be heard IMO. But I would not quote, or say either opinion was right.
    A thread has already been stopped because of this argument by @wcutler and followed up by @Daniel Mosquin. So I hope everybody concerned can find a happy mid ground in this. And as I have already said 'AGREE TO DISAGREE'. I hope @Sulev and @Sundrop can also agree to this.

    I hope we can now get back to helping @Mahonroy and send my apologies as a moderator, that the thread has become side tracked.
     

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