Arbutus: Traumatised Arbutus seedling

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by Fern, May 31, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    I recently bought 2 Arbutus seedlings for my back yard: one is 6" tall & the other is about 2'. I did a lot of research into the conditions & handling the trees prefer (including reading lots of academic lit) and believe that the large temporary pots they were each transplanted into are as suitable as I can get them - i.e. their soil is well drained (with rocks, sand & mulch), slightly acidic (using a bit of soil from under a nearby pine tree), involving minimal root disturbance, not over watered (they're kept outside but under cover & I water them by hand when they look fairly but not totally dry), and includes several cups of soil from around a very well established & healthy Arbutus tree (to kick-start their individual arbutoid mycorrhizal communities).

    Ironically, even though the smaller of the seedlings started off with brown/black splotches & fairly brittle leaves, it's now quickly & happily growing a new bud & is looking relatively well established, even though I only transplanted it last month. However the other seedling, which began as a fantastically healthy plant, with lots of strong side branches & new leaves, now looks like it's decided to die. I suspect that part of the problem is that I transplanted it just before the most recent heatwave hit the lower mainland (i.e. about 8-9 days ago), meaning that it didn't get enough time to settle into the new pot/soil before getting stressed by the high heat & sharp sun. And despite the fact that I blocked & then moved the pot out of the hot afternoon sun within the first 2 days of the heatwave (and now have it hidden from direct sunlight altogether), it's still pitifully wilted & sad looking. The older leaves have started to turn yellow, red & brown/black, and are almost all brittle & dry. The newer leaves are still green & pliable, but they're all floppy & 'tone-less'. The stem itself has wilted too. At first, it seemed to respond to some increased watering (but not over-watering!) to counterbalance the increased daily evaporation but now nothing is helping to revive it. It's been like this for days now, and I'm starting to get REALLY worried about my lovely & long sought-after tree.

    Can anyone suggest something I can do or change that might help this little tree survive & even thrive like its runt companion seems to be??
    I'd really appreciate any ideas or suggestions you can give. I'm definitely a newbie gardener, but I have the best of intentions & don't mind coddling these little trees as much as necessary.

    Thanks so much.
  2. I'm wondering if this might not be some sort of leaf or root fungus instead of just stress... Any comments or suggestions??
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    sw USA
    Arbutus are prone to several type of fungal disease. Really I think you are lucky to have one of them doing well, they are extremely difficult to transplant. Reading through the various threads in the Arbutus Forum, one sees how difficult the tree is to grow in cultured environments.

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