Arbutus: Water - Too much or too little?

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by mamow, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. mamow

    mamow Member

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    Folks:

    Have so far found other comments re: what seem to be similar situations with arbutus trees (we're not quite sure of our specific type) encouraging, but am still wary of significant yellowing in the leaves of our tree.

    We planted it in April - very well-drained soil (dirt deep in the hole was dark, but not necessarily moist when we planted it). In the past month, the leaves in the inner parts of most branches have turned yellow, and in some cases brown.

    Has been more damp than usual here on the coast (low fog and in some cases marine layer precip), but the sun has been out most days, drying the ground pretty well.

    There did seem to be new growth sprouting for awhile, but not so sure any more.

    We heavily watered it when we first planted it, but trailed to once per week of deep watering. In the past month, the tree has been sparsely watered (I think).

    Below are some pics of the tree. Would love some observations re: potential causes for the yellowing and whether or not we should worry - and if yes, then what we might like to do for it.

    Thanks in advance.
     

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  2. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    mamow,

    Not to worry. This is an annual event when the trees shead many of their older leaves, all the time being replaced with new growth. Broadleaved evergreen trees exibit this habit.
    Here's a pic of one of mine showing the same condition.

    Cheers, LPN.
     

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  3. mamow

    mamow Member

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    Phew! Thanks for the quick reply.

    We had read another posting that said a similar thing, then had a neighbor tell us that we were watering the tree too much. Others said the same. Then the nursery said we weren't watering it enough. That prompted the post.

    Still unsettled is the specific type of arbutus. Marina? The flowers are pink, and the berries are super bright red (Well, a few were. Those on the tree now are yellow.)

    Wondering also how often you water your tree, LPN...

    Thanks in advance.
     
  4. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Mamow,
    I suggest you follow the nursery advice and water it more often. In addition to the normal shedding, your pics seem to show some (lack of) water stress. Please notice that even drought resistant plants, like the arbutus, need abondant water (whether from rain or from watering) the first season specially when the specimen is of significant size like yours.

    Gomero
     
  5. sue1

    sue1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Water your new arbutus for the first few years. Once established, gradually stop watering and then don't water at all. Arbutus like to be dry in summer and wet in winter.
     
  6. mamow

    mamow Member

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    Gomero and Sue:

    Thanks for your responses.

    Not surprising that we continue to get conflicting responses re: the tree. We decided to err on the side of more water (but not too much) as our landscaping friends keep yelling to give it no more water.

    We are unsure as to how often we should water...once a week, twice a week, once a month? Thanks!
     
  7. sue1

    sue1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi again. I still think no water in summer, but of course only when the tree is well established. Maybe your arbutus is a different species from the ones here on the West Coast of British Columbia. All I know is that our arbutus do not like water in the summer, one of the reasons they only grow in this particular area of BC. The Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island typically receive very little rainfall from June through to September, and on Gabriola Island it's about 1/2" in those months, if you're lucky. The arbutus thrive here. They do go through some "ugly" periods when the leaves wilt, die and shed, but there's always new ones behind them. Very beautiful trees.

    Good Luck!

    Sue
     
  8. mamow

    mamow Member

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    Thanks, Sue. We're down here in So California, where the weather is likely very similar to yours, only a bit warmer. We picked the tree because of its native status, as we have started to design most of our dirt with natives (less water, better fit, more likely to like it here) - another reason we've been a bit worried so far.

    So as we have it, we'll keep watering it for the next few months, then let it go through next summer on its own.

    Thanks, Sue, and everyone else for the help.

    Mark
     

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