European White Birch Trees Appear To Be Dying - Knowledgebase Question

San Jose, CA
Question by fellnoel
June 19, 2002
I bought two of your European White Birch trees about a month and a half ago. I planted them immediately as per the instructions. After two days or so they seemed to be dying so I added french water drains on each side to esnure the roots were getting enough water. That seemed to help initially, but now they seem to be dying again, and this time it's worse. The leaves are turning yellow and drying up. I water them as per the instructions but nothing seems to work. please help...I want to save my trees!


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Answer from NGA
June 19, 2002

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Yellowing leaves on birches this early in the year usually indicates stress of some sort. Excessively hot weather can cause the problem, as can too much or too little water, or over-fertilization. In the case of your birches, it might also be a reaction to being transplanted. If so, your trees will eventually adjust and begin growing well for you. All birches require a regular supply of moisture and nutrients. When you apply water, be sure to apply slowly so it has a chance to trickle down and wet the entire root mass. The frequency of water application depends upon weather and your soil type - sandy soil drains rapidly and needs to be watered more often than clayey soil. As a rule of thumb, we recommend one deep soaking once each week to help newly transplanted trees and shrubs become established.

I don't know if French drains are necessary - too much water excludes air from the soil and will drown the roots. At this point I'd continue to water regularly and give the birches time to adjust. The trees will probably replace the leaves they've already dropped. If not, they should leaf out well for you next spring.

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