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Martin, Engineer
Category: General
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Experience:  i'm 41 and i never stopped studying and experimenting
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My five year old weeping cherry is dying. Why

Resolved Question:

My five year old weeping cherry is dying. Why?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Martin replied 6 years ago.
Hello, welcome to Just Answer.

In what region do you live?

Can you give me a description of the bark, leaves, any dry buds?

Was that a progressive problem or is this just started happening (even if it just started 10 days ago to die, was it just surviving before or was it producing new branch abundantly)?

Do you use herbicide around it?

What kind of soil do you have?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you. I live in central North Carolina, Sanford. I didn't look closely at the bark but I didn't notice anything on it. The leaves just dried up and turned brown, there aren't any buds. It did bloom in the Spring but now that I think about it, the flowers were kind of sparse.Before that it was growing very nicely.

My soil is basically clay. Ther is a light layer of better dirt on top of the clay. When I planted this, I put in a lot of good dirt but it didn't go very deep,\.

I few years ago I had a beautiful blue cedar die suddenly and a landscaper told me it drowned becasue of the clay. We had a wt Spring then and also this year.

The whole yard is bushes and mulch, no grass. And I do use herbicides on the mulch to control the weeds. Here they grow like weeds! and I have to keep after them. But I have learnes to keep it away from the bushes and keep th nozzle close to the groun to avoid the drift.

Also I was tols another tree like mine in my neighborhood also died suddenly . And the farm bureau had a report of another, they thought it was the weed killer but I am thinking maybe it did drown?

I hope that will help.

Expert:  Martin replied 6 years ago.
I think we can remove a bark digger if the bark look fine.

The herbicide are always a possibility and i would try to cut on it on a 4m radius around the tree. As a tip to control weed, put some layers of news paper under the mulch.

Your location remove the possibility from damage in the winter.

Clay is never good for 2 reasons. Like you mentioned, if there is too much water, it can really sit in a pool, this can cause root rot. Another problem with clay is that it's more hard/dense than organic soil. So the root then go in circle like they would do in a pot. As the tree get older it might deplete the nutriment in it's confined roots area. Giving the tree Nitrogen supplement would help him until it finally expend it's root.

If you use mulch around it, make sure the mulch never touch the bark, you should not have to water that much with mulch at it's feet.

I experienced death of many tree around here 2 or 3 year ago. Most prunus died and the consensus was that there was a day too cold. I know it was not the case as i closely monitored my kiwi planted outdoor and it never got cold enough to kill them (and they survived), so the problem was something else. I think it was related to a too dry winter (only conclusion i could find). It was not a disease as some of my Lapin cherry did not dies and i am in region 4, so it was more an acclimation issue (as the one that survived died and regrew the year before that).

So try to put nitrogen, don't over use water, reduce herbicide. You can also try to prune one branch, that usually boost the growth among prunus (but not more than one as the tree is weak.

A thing about prunus, they are really hard to kill. If they get enough humidity at the base (when surrounded by weed 1 foot tall) they will shoot new growth from the base. It cost less to let it grow and then cut the dead part than to buy a new one (especially that this new growth will now be perfectly adapted to it's habitat).
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

One thing I forgot to tell you-- this is a grafted tree and I don't know what the roots and trunk are. But I don't want it to come from the old root. I am hoping the branches above the gratf will recover. I will use the newspaper, I know that works but there is a grade to the yard and rain washes the mulch off the papers.

What form is the nitrogen? What prodict should I look for?


Expert:  Martin replied 6 years ago.
At 5 year, the old trunk scar may have disappeared (but sometime a curve is still visible), if so it's usually not over 4 inch. If it want to come back from over that height you should be fine.

To prevent erosion of the mulch you can put more of it, the weight may compensate any lack of friction. Unless it's very steep. By the way if there is lot of water running around the tree, it can cause nitrogen depletion as it dilute well in water.

As for nitrogen, i would buy a pack of mixed organic matter and sheep manure (that is around $3 around here). That should be enough without burning the soil. You just put that around the tree (again never touching the bark) and you can put mulch over it. You might also use dilute urine in water in 1/20 proportion once a week.

If it does not come back after a month, the tree may have fireblight and even if some recommend bactericides to control this, i never saw much success and the tree generally die. Fireblight can happen in long wet spring followed by hot summer time and give the same symptom you mentioned (but it's usually very rapid to kill a tree).

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