QUESTION: Hi - We recently transplanted a relatively small tree & we were careful with the roots & watered it well, so in just a few days there were branch sprouts all over. At the time we were having rain every day which continued for over two weeks. We are now in a dry spell but we have continued to water the tree every other day. I just noticed today that all of the little branch sprouts are drying up. Is this normal & perhaps just from the excessive heat or should we be watering it more? Thanks!
ANSWER: The summer months are the worst time to transplant trees. Heat and dry weather can damage and kill the trees. You did not say what species of tree this was and if it was a nursery grown or dug up from somewhere. I would try watering with 1 inch of water--place a pan under he tree and turn the sprinkler and when the pan has 1 inch of water in it stop. Do this every third day unless it rains. You can check the soil near the tree and if it is dry water. Also if you have not done so mulch around the tree with not more than 3 inches deep of organic mulch not piles up on the trunk--pine straw is good. This will help hold moisture around the roots. Too much water is a bad as too little.
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QUESTION: Hi Jim -
Thanks so much for taking time to answer my question & I'll be pleased to leave you a good rating, but I do have a follow-up question as well. You asked what kind of tree - it's some sort of Chinese Maple & the reason we had to transplant was because it was recently pushed over in a thunderstorm with lots of wind. The roots didn't seem to be damaged so we cut the limbs back & thought we'd try to save it. We moved it to the back yard where it would have better shelter from wind & were thrilled to see all the numerous new spouts but now they're about all dried up. The first two days we watered really good & after that the daily rain came for over two weeks. We've been in a dry & hot spell w/much less rain this week, but I didn't know if we were watering enough or too much. Do you think the dried up sprouts on the limbs are sign of the roots dying or just that the new sprouts were too small & tender to survive the heat? We will start watering as you suggested & hope for the best.
Sounds like the roots were damaged during the transplanting--digging the tree and moving it. The proper process for transplanting hardwood trees:
Deciduous trees can be successfully moved only if a ball of soil is left around the roots. The exposed roots should be protected with moist burlap or newspaper or with polyethylene sheeting. Every effort should be made to reduce root exposure to wind and sun, keeping the ball as moist as possible. It's best to prepare the hole before digging up the tree you wish to move. The best time of the year is the Fall before a hard freeze or early Spring.
Size of the root ball and size of the hole:
For deciduous trees and shrubs the soil ball should be:
Width = 9-12 in. in diameter/every 1 in. of tree diameter
Depth = 6 in./every 1 in. of tree diameter
For example: A tree trunk 2 inches wide would need a soil ball of 18-24 inches wide and 12 inches deep.
Dig the new hole twice the size of the rootball and as deep.
I think beside the time of the year being harsh on newly planted trees the lack of root during the transplant caused the tree to not have enough root system to supply the amount of water to the foliage. Thus the leaves dropped off.
You may need to check to see if the tree is still alive --start near the end of an upper outer branch and scrap a small bit of bark off the branch and if the color under the bark is green the branch is still alive. If the color under the bark is brown the branch is dead at this point on the branch--if brown continue down the branch scraping at intervals until you fine green or reach the main trunk. Try other branches if you do not find green. IF none is found the tree is dead. If you find green the tree is alive and keep watering with the 1 inch. Hardwood trees like Maples have the capability to leaf out again if they lose their leaves for environmental reasons. Good luck!