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Tree top dieback
I planted a stewartia tree the summer of
2004. In 2005 it had leaves on all branches but
did not flower and the fall colors were not there.

This year, there is dieback on the top, but there are about 30 flower buds.

I presume the tree is in tranplant shock, my question is do I cut of the top dead branches or
leave it alone. Will the top branches leaf out
next year?



Posts: 10 | Registered: Monday June 05, 2006Report This Post
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I am not an expert. But in my experience it takes 2 to sometimes 4 years for a tree to get fully established. you will get the typical trasplant shock happening within the first two years. Within the first 4-5 years of planting (until they establish thick roots) they will be affected by drastic weather changes and water problems like drought and overwatering. They could be effected by fertalizing.
Think of the tree as our bodies. when we go into shock form cold an other things we will lose our fingertips and toes (like with frostbite and diabetes) then hands/feet leg/arms and so on to conserve our main powerhouse (the organs) the tree simply went through a power conservation mode. It gave the life of its top to conserve the main trunk and the roots. You should simply do to it as we do to the bodies and amputate. Dead wood on a tree is a magnet for disease, rot and insects. just be sure to follow proper procedures for pruning it off taking care of sealing the larger branches that get cutt off.. if i were you I would google the info you need for that procedure before proceeding.
Does anyone agree with this?
does this help?
Posts: 5 | Registered: Monday April 24, 2006Report This Post
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Hi Krista,
Nice analogy. But hopefully the tree
will regrow and replenish all its lost branches
unlike our bodies.

Posts: 10 | Registered: Monday June 05, 2006Report This Post
RCA #354
BCMA #PD0008b
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For not being an expert, Krista offered up some very good advice, and a reasonably accurate portrayal of the establishment process. Pruning out the deadwood is OK, just don’t take much of the live twigs and branches. It looks as though the tree has stabilized and is starting to recover, but that will take a few more years to be certain.

It looks like it was planted too deep. The well around the trunk is good, to keep soil and mulch away from the bark of the trunk. The tops of the first main buttress roots should be exposed.

Ranga mentioned that hopefully the branches will regrow. What actually happens in trees is that they grow new tissues in new places, rather than replacing the dead. New twig growth comes only from the buds on the twigs, and sometimes from latent buds in the bark (these are called suckers Or water sprouts). The new sprouts do not form the same shape and character as normal branches, however. In effect, they try to form a whole new tree, growing straight up at first before branching laterally.

With luck, your Stewartia will pull through. Visit Trees Are Good, an ISA site, for good recommendations on tree care, and International Society of Arboriculture to find a qualified ISA Certified Arborist.

Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
Posts: 287 | Location: Bear, DE USA | Registered: Wednesday June 18, 2003Report This Post
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