The Q&A Archives: Elaeocarpus decipiens

Question: two trees, about 7 ft., in patio pots since Feb. this year. Almost overnight loss of 80% of leaves on one tree. Two days later the second tree is also dropping most leaves. HELP!! Both were in a windy side-house location but have been moved to wind free area. They always got full sun. This is desert location. Potted with gravel base and used rich potting soil. Have not fertilized during these first four months. Watered with bubbler twice a day, 10 minutes each time. Water tray under pots often has some standing water but does evaporate to dry.

Answer: Although these trees appreciate regular watering, it sounds as though you may be keeping the soil to wet. Another concern is that plants in containers have their roots almost exposed to the elements. Being in a full sun location makes the trees happy, but their roots can literally cook if sunshine directly hits the pots. From your description, it sounds as though the trees are really stressed. I'd water thoroughly and then allow the top 2" of soil to dry out before thoroughly watering again. Try shielding the containers from sunshine - perhaps setting some decorative pots in from of them would help. I hope so!

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