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Plant Diseases/tri color beech


QUESTION: Got a six foot baby last year. Planted autumn. Thirty feet from a big maple. I did not know, and I planted it thirty feet from a long established black walnut too. A section of leaves is brown and curling. Also some holes in scattered leaves. 5d511Do I need to transplant??? How can I help it???

ANSWER: Dear Joe, There are a few possible reasons for the brown leaves.  If it is just the one branch, then that branch should be cut out.  If many of the leaves are curling, it could be because of several things.  I'm not sure where in the US you are located, but the tricolor beech prefers to be planted in partly or mostly shady areas.  It may be preferable for it to be planted near other big trees, especially if they provide the tree with shade in the afternoon.  If you are far enough north, this may not be a big problem, but if you are located in one of the southern states it would be a bigger problem if the tree is planted in full sun.  The color of the leaves will be better with some shade.  Also, they prefer to be in well drained areas to prevent the roots becoming saturated.  The other problem you could have would be borers.  This would be most likely if your damage is located in several specific branches and/or you see sap weeping down the tree.  In that case, you should spray the tree with a borer spray.  Fertilome makes a good one that is called Borer, Bagworm, Tent Caterpillar, and Leaf Miner spray.  If you don't find that one, look for a spray containing the active ingredient Spinosad.  Spinosad is a completely organic spray that will not harm beneficials, only bugs that try to eat your tree.  You can also use it to prevent borers, and to kill whatever has eaten the holes in the leaves.  The holes in the leaves, by the way, are not a big problem, but they can be very irritating if there are a lot of them on a tree prized for its beautiful and unusual foliage.  If you do decide that you want to transplant the tree because of possible sun damage, I would definitely not do that now.  You should wait until the winter to transplant to prevent damaging the roots.  This tree has a fibrous root system and is extremely susceptible to transplant shock during the active growing season.  In case you think the drainage needs improving, rather than moving the tree, you might be able to fix the problem with some trenches or slopes to channel water away from the tree.  I hope this information helps you, but write back if you need further assistance, and I will try to respond more promptly.  Good luck, Melissa

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QUESTION: I would say that sun is probably not the problem. We are in northwest Indiana. The old maple closest to it, to the east, provides shade in the early part of the day, till about eleven. Thirty feet away, to the west, is the black walnut and a row of 60-70 foot tall pine trees which probably have the tree in shade about six in the afternoon.

Thank you for your response and the wonderful, well-thought out information. I really appreciate it!

Joe, you are very welcome.  I didn't think the sun was a real problem because the other leaves are completely unaffected and they would be curled if that was an issue, so borer is your most likely culprit.  Incidentally, some borers look like big armored beetles, but others look like clear winged moths and may be striped so that they resemble wasps.  Feel free to ask me questions anytime.  Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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