The Q&A Archives: Honey Locust

Question: I planted young tree in spring of '97; it was about 6 ft tall stick, just showing buds. The top 10 inches or so did not show any life, so I cut it back. This year, same thing is has happened; good leaf except for top 10 inches. It's dry and appears dead. Is the tree a basket case or can it be saved?

Answer: The pattern you describe isn't typical of a Honey Locust, so I'd suspect some root problems. I'd dig the tree and examine the roots. They should be creamy white on the inside. If you find more dead roots than live ones, you probably should dispose of the tree and plant a new one. Plants can run into problems like root rot if the soil doesn't drain well. If the roots look healthy, replant the tree, spreading the roots out so they'll have lots of room to grow. Build a basin around the base of the tree and flood it when you water, making sure the entire root system gets wet. Most plants require about an inch of water per week until they're established. Shrubs and trees can usually get along with natural rainfall in the winter, but need some supplemental watering in the summer. Watch your tree for signs of new growth - it sometimes takes a year for them to settle in and begin to grow. If there's nothing substantial by next summer, I'd toss it and plant a new tree.

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