Yellowing Of Leaves On River Birch - Knowledgebase Question

Palmyra, PA
Question by dg0083
September 14, 2002
I bought and planted a 15' river birch 2 years ago in October 2000. As you would expect the ball of the birch was quite large due to the size of the tree. The problem I have been having is that it seems very densitive to water. As long as I water it heavily 2-3 times a week it seems to do ok. If I try to water it once a week the leaves yellow and fall off. Needless to say this has been a very frustrating experience. After nearly two years I would have hoped it would have taken root but I don't think it has. I watered it heavily last Sunday (slow soak for 1 hour) prior to a business trip I had to take from 9/9-13. When I returned home on Friday I noticed the leaves were just starting to turn yellow again. By Sunday today the whole tree is almost yellow.

What's going on? Should I abandon the tree and get a more hardy replacement? I really don't want to specd the next 5 years watering it 3X a week. Do you have a solution or does it literally take this long to get it established?

Also, since it has lost its leaves several times each season, do you think it is weakening the tree?


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Answer from NGA
September 14, 2002

0

watering the first year or two, then watering in dry spells for the next several years. In severe drought conditions, even established trees may need supplemental watering, so this is not really so much to ask when you think of the decades of enjoyment a tree can provide.

I'm sorry you have been having such disappointment with your tree. There is always the possibility that some other factor besides water is at work, such as a pest problem or perhaps the soil where the tree is planted is incompatible or some other physical problem such as underlying rock or other impediment to growth is at work. You might want to consult with the nursery where you purchased the tree or with your county extension or possibly with a professionally trained and certified arborist to see if there is some combination of factors working against you that could be fixed. Good luck with your tree. watering the first year or two, then watering in dry spells for the next several years. In severe drought conditions, even established trees may need supplemental watering, so this is not really so much to ask when you think of the decades of enjoyment a tree can provide.

I'm sorry you have been having such disappointment with your tree. There is always the possibility that some other factor besides water is at work, such as a pest problem or perhaps the soil where the tree is planted is incompatible or some other physical problem such as underlying rock or other impediment to growth is at work. You might want to consult with the nursery where you purchased the tree or with your county extension or possibly with a professionally trained and certified arborist to see if there is some combination of factors working against you that could be fixed. Good luck with your tree.

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