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Beginner Landscaping: New cherry tree seems thirsty all the time

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indianabanana
Madison, IN
(Zone 6b)

June 15, 2012
3:23 PM

Post #9166693

I've been meaning to join these forums forever, and it looks like the number of questions I have finally spurred me on to do it. So first of all, hi!

Here's the first among many questions: We put in a young cherry tree last fall, and it bloomed in the spring right on schedule. The leaves came out and looked good for a while, but it has been unusually dry this month. I don't just mean that it hasn't rained, I mean that the air itself has been dry, so water evaporates from the ground really quickly. The tree is in our front yard which we never water, and we assumed that the tree would have gotten established over the (warm, moist) winter and wouldn't need much watering. We had a warm spring with just the right amount of rainfall. But this month, we had a week and a half or so with no rain, and then a week with lots of rain, and now a week with no rain again. During all of those weeks, the tree has looked the same amount of thirsty, even when we watered, and even when it rained a lot.

I'm not sure if we made a mistake by not watering regularly all month or if something else is wrong with the tree. The leaves are folding inward along the central vein and the leaves are a bit lighter shade of green than I imagine they should be. There isn't much visible sign of blight - a couple chews here and there, a couple of spots here and there, but nothing overwhelming. New shoots are still coming out as the tree grows.

Is this just year one in the life of a young transplant? Should we still be watering daily? Or should we just trust the process and expect it to look nicer next year?

Also, our soil pH is neutral leaning towards alkaline (I don't have the exact number in front of me). Our native perennials grow beautifully in this soil with very little watering. The dirt is rich and holds moisture well, at least for the perennials. I have noticed, however, that the leaves on our dogwood are showing signs of some kind of nutrient deficiency - the area around the veins on each leaf is nice and green, but the spaces between the veins are lighter green. I imagine some sort of soil amendments are in order, and I wonder if the cherry could be suffering from the same deficiency (and I wonder if it's related to pH). But the cherry's leaves do NOT show the same discoloration, and I don't know how different its needs are.

There's as much information as I can think of to give! I'll try to post a picture when I get a chance. Thanks for your help!
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 15, 2012
3:40 PM

Post #9166717

Can you post some pictures?

I very much doubt that you need to be watering daily, but trees will need a bit of extra water for the first year or two until they get completely established so it's possible if you haven't had much rain lately that it needs more water than you've been giving it (less frequent but deep watering is always better than giving it little "sips" every day or two). However, leaves that are too light green and curling could be a cultural issue that has to do with nutrients vs watering. A picture would really help though.
indianabanana
Madison, IN
(Zone 6b)

June 15, 2012
5:10 PM

Post #9166804

Thanks for your quick reply! Here are some (hasty) pictures. The last picture is of the dogwood leaves, since the trees are within 12 feet of each other and I imagine the soil condition is the same for both. The trees are exhibiting different symptoms, but I figure it can't hurt to look at both. The dogwood is well-established. It was here before we moved in two years ago, and it was already quite tall and full then.

I should also mention that we planted the cherry tree near some very, very spent (and blighted) rose bushes. We didn't know at the time that the two plants were in the same family.

Now that I've stood out there long enough to take pictures, I see that the cherry tree has more chew holes and spots than I thought. I don't know if those are the cause of the problem or if the tree is just stressed and therefore more susceptible to pests (or both).

Thumbnail by indianabanana   Thumbnail by indianabanana   Thumbnail by indianabanana   Thumbnail by indianabanana
Click an image for an enlarged view.

WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

June 18, 2012
7:17 PM

Post #9170839

Hi and welcome to Daves Garden, the pic of the tree look to me like it is suffering from lack of moisture / Water, I know you said you were watering every day but, in hot weather,a crust get's formed on the top of the soil and when we water, this is inclined to run off the surface and therefore the roots of the tree's / shrubs dont really get the water we think they are.
Watering all depends also when you do this task, mornings before the hot sun gets going or evening when things are cooling down are best.

What I do and always recomend when planting young or transpalnt tree's is when you dig the hole for the tree, put the tree into this and also slightly further away from the trunk but at the root ball area, stick an up-turned plastic bottle/ juice container into the soil down as deep as possible so the neck of the bottle is almost or at the level of the roots, (sorry I should have said you need to cut the bottom off the bottle / container) this allows you to fill up the bottle / container several times, that way you know the roots are getting enough water and you can also add liquid feed to shrubs / tree's by this method if or when required.

I know some people may think you will give too much water doing this type of watering but, you may not have to water each day as the bottle being filled up a few times at one watering, the soil will be holding moisture far longer than when watering the surface of the soil.

After a couple of years you can remove the bottle / container and allow the tree to try survive with normal watering regimes.
I would go to garden store and buy a soil testing kit ( the ones that cost very little) once you know what type of PH your soil is, you can then change the soil to help whatever your plants need. You can add different feeds, manures, compost etc, there are many things to help but without knowing what type of soil you have it is difficult to say right now what you require to add if anything to the soil, Most Cherry tree's like a slightly acidic soil that is free draining, free draining is soil that can hold moisture long enough to allow roots to take the water up but, not soil that the roots will be sitting in soggy wet soil for long periods of time.

For now I would use your trowel to dig a hole to sink a few plastic containers as mentioned to let water to the roots and this will allow time before the little tree gets too stressed, while you are sorting out the soil conditions you have.
While testing your soil by the way, test several areas as you may find there is fluctuating PH numbers in the same garden as I have here in my garden, that is not unusual either.
Good Luck, hope this helps a little.
WeeNel.

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