The Q&A Archives: Bark Peeling From Redbud

Question: I have a 3.5" Redbud "Forest Pansy" who experienced some type of insect infestation last fall. I treated the tree with dormant oil spray which took care of the insects, but now the bark is peeling off and the "pulp" underneath is powdery and falling away. What is this condition, is it terminal, and how do I treat it?

Answer: Well, I'm not sure that dormant oil was the best course to take with your insect problem. Some plants are photosensitive, meaning that oil can cause burning of the tissues if the plant receives direct sunshine after being sprayed. Dormant oil is generally used in the winter when the air temperature is above 40F and below 65F, and it's used to smother insect eggs and overwintering insects like scale. The reaction your redbud is showing may very well be symptoms of an early death. There's not much you can do at this point to help it overcome this setback, except just to wait and watch. If the plant sets out new growth this spring, it may recover. If not, chalk it up to experience and be more cautious with your sprays in the future.

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