The Q&A Archives: Indian Magic Crabapple tree

Question: I have a Indian Magic Crabapple tree that i planted this spring. It seems to have lost almost every leaf. It still has some small crabapples and does not appear to be dead but looks very unhealthy. The tree cost $40 and i hate to lose it. I check it daily and have never seen any bugs or other pests present on it so i'm not sure what is causing it to lose its foilage. I water it regulary. Can it be saved? Thank you.

Answer: It's obvious your crabapple is under stress of some kind. Transplant shock is common when trees or shrubs are planted, but this normally goes away in a few weeks once the tree adapts to its new growing place. If it were stressed when it was first planted, I would expect by now that it would have adjusted. So, that leaves watering practices/soil drainage. Crabapple trees appreciate one deep soaking each week during the growing season. The best way to water a tree is to make a watering well or watering basin beneath the tree by mounding up a few inches of soil in a circle, extending about 12" from the trunk. Then fill the basin, allow to drain, then fill a second time. Do this once a week. Watering this way ensures you apply enough water to wet the entire root mass and the water can trickle down and soak in without running off.

The fact that the fruit is still clinging to the branches is no indication that the tree is still alive. What I'd do is select a few branches and do a scrape test to see if the tissue is still alive beneath the bark. Use your thumbnail and scrape a little of the bark off. If you see green, that branch is still alive. Do this on several branches. If you see green tissue, the tree is still alive. If you find brown tissue beneath the bark, that branch is dead. Continue to test until you find live material. If most of the branches still have green tissue and are alive, continue to water your tree regularly and it should recover; if most of the branches are dead, the tree doesn't have much hope of regaining its health.

Hope you find good news beneath the bark!

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