The Q&A Archives: Red oak slow to leaf

Question: I purchased a 4' red oak 5 years ago. It's never been a fast grower and always gets its leaves last in the neighborhood and is the first to loose them. When it looses them (in late summer), the leaves look shrivled and dry, but I water it quite a bit. This year, the leaves are barely coming on and look wilted already. The tree is now only about 7' tall. Any ideas?

Answer: Red oak is a fast growing and reasonably adaptable tree but yours may be struggling because of the soil or the way in which it was planted. It might be worth your effort to dig and replant it. At that time you can inspect the planting hole and the root system to make sure the soil is moist throughout the root mass and yet not soggy wet. Sometimes trees can be planted in an area that does not drain well or drains too quickly and the roots simply cannot venture out and get the nourishment they need. Red oaks grow fast and if yours is only 7 feet tall after 5 years in the ground, the roots are really struggling. I would dig the tree, amend a large area in the planting area and then replant the tree. This should help it thrive. Hope so!

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