The Q&A Archives: 5 year old compact stella cherry tree

Question: I live in Austin (texas). It has been very hot this year.. everyday about 102/103 for the past 50 days. The cherry tree (2.5 inches thick) leaves have all turned brown and drying.. I am getting a feeling that tree is dying.. I have been watering (30 gallons) regularly about 4 times a week.. What should I do differently...

Answer: Hot weather can really stress a cherry tree out and I think that's why it looks so puny. My bigger concern is that you are overwatering and stressing the tree even more. Unless it is a huge tree, it can't really use 120 gallons of water per week! If you have sandy soil, most of it will percolate down past the root system but if you have clay soil, it will simply sit at the root zone. Soggy soils drive out oxygen, which can actually suffocate the roots. It's a normal reaction to make sure a heat stressed tree gets adequate water, but too much is worse than not enough. At this point I'd just accept the fact that the hot summer weather has stressed the tree and go back to a normal watering schedule. I'd taper off on the frequency of watering - twice a week should be plenty; once a week when the weather cools. If you can keep the tree alive over the summer months it should recover from the stress over the winter months and leaf out right on schedule next spring. Good luck with your cherry tree!

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