The Q&A Archives: Arbutus "marina" Not Knitting To Soil

Question: Help! I planted a Monrovia Nursery "Marina" arbutus from a 15 gallon container. 1 1/2 years ago in June. I had to stake it last summer because it started leaning. It's at least 16 ft. tall but I can still wiggle the trunk and see that the roots are not secure. I untangled them from the 15 gallon container when I planted it and didn't dig deeper than the rootball, just 3 times wider than the width. It's in the front lawn. What now? The growth is weird, too. Very tall and leggy with little branching. Thanks

Answer: Sparse root mass might indicate over-watering, or soil that drains too slowly for your Arbutus. It likes regular water, but the roots will suffocate if the soil remains soggy for any length of time. Thin, leggy growth might also indicate stress from root problems. If your lawn is watered by automatic sprinklers, try shutting off the sprinklers that soak the soil directly beneath the tree. If you hand water, avoid watering beneath the tree. This will encourage deep root growth, which will also improve the tree's ability to anchor itself in the soil. Best wishes with your Arbutus!

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