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Anna, Biologist, Gardening Expert
Category: Landscaping
Satisfied Customers: 11456
Experience:  I am a biologist with experience in water gardening, and growing trees, ornamental plants, and vegetables.
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I have 6 Rowan Trees; 37 years old; around 32 feet tall;

Customer Question

I have 6 Rowan Trees; 37 years old; around 32 feet tall; planted about 15 feet apart. From eight feet up each tree has 3 to 5 large limbs with many more smaller limbs growing out of those. I do not recall ever having seen flowers or berries. There is new growth and foliage at the top and outer ends of the limbs; lower and inner limbs are void of any leaves. Most of the lower branches look dead and are very brittle. Large (10 foot) and smaller branches fall off every time there is a strong wind. There is a light greyish green growth on the bark of the trunk and some limbs. Large pieces of bark fall off the trunk and limbs. I live in Central Ontario (Lake Simcoe), the soil they are planted in is moist. Please tell me how to nourish the trees and soil and how to trim them.
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landscaping
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. I apologize that no one responded to you sooner. Different experts come at various times. I just logged on and saw your question. I suspect that the reason no one responded to you is that they didn't want to give you bad news. However, I believe you deserve a response and you deserve honesty. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in trees. I feel bad to tell you this, and I wish I didn't have to, but your trees are in a state of decline due to old age. Rowan trees have an average life expectancy of 25-35 years. Sometimes one will thrive for longer than that, but that is unusual. Symptoms of decline include the death of larger branches, bark falling off, small new growth, and general failure to thrive. The grayish green growth is lichen, and it is of no concern. It doesn't harm trees in any way. If you want to try to get a few more years from the trees, and perhaps bring at least some of them to better health, the first step is to prune off all the dead branches. That will be all you can do this fall. In the spring, feed the trees with a good all purpose fertilizer such as Osmocote (sold in nurseries and garden centers). Feed them once per month through the growing season. Sometimes a new healthy tree can sprout from the roots of an old one. If you want to try that approach, cut off the trees near ground level, next spring. Then feed and wait to see if sprouts come up. If they do, choose the straightest one and train it into a tree. I realize none of these options are wonderful, but unfortunately your trees are at a life stage where they aren't likely to thrive again. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I'm sorry not to have better news. Anna