Ask a Question forum: sour cherry tree

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Name: Tiffany Hirst
Leamington Utah (Zone 6b)
Jun 23, 2016 8:58 PM CST
I planted a sour cherry tree about 6 to 8 weeks ago. The leaves are wilting. I water regularly and have fertilized once. What am I doing wrong?
T. Hirst
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Tomato Heads Garden Photography
Apples Composter Solar Power
Jun 23, 2016 10:25 PM CST
Can you post a picture? How old was the tree when you planted it? Was it a bare root tree or had it been container grown? Were there leaves out when you planted it?

All those questions will help, but I'm leaning towards transplant shock, even though 6 to 8 weeks seems a long time. It might have been doing OK and then it got really hot and it just doesn't have the 'small root' qty it needs to draw in the moisture. Is it in the full sun?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Jun 24, 2016 8:19 AM CST
Right, I agree with robynanne about transplant shock. If you can possibly rig up a piece of shade cloth to keep the sun off that tree in the middle of the day, that will help it get through the next month or two of very hot, dry weather. It just doesn't have enough root system to support the leaves through a hot, dry day.

My kids all live in Salt Lake, so I know your weather went from cool and rainy to hot and dry very quickly this year. My daughter moans about it to me daily.

You also need to water deeply in the early morning so the plant has time to take up lots of water before the day's heat kicks in. The key is to water deeply! That means 10 minutes with the hose running on the root system of the plant so the water soaks down well into the root zone. Just a lawn sprinkler will only penetrate down 4 to 6 inches in half an hour of sprinkling and I'm sure you're not watering your lawn every day.

Do you have a thick layer of mulch over the root area? That will also help it keep its roots cool, and retain moisture in the soil for the tree. 4 inches of some type of bark or wood chip mulch would be good. Just don't pile it up against the trunk. Rubber or stone doesn't insulate at all, and in fact it heats up and helps to fry the roots of young trees like that.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Tomato Heads Garden Photography
Apples Composter Solar Power
Jun 24, 2016 11:01 AM CST
I just put in a sour cherry tree this spring and so far so good.. Here's the start:

Thumb of 2016-06-24/robynanne/b121a3
I put the dirt around it so that there was a bowl for the water to build up in to water the tree.

Then I added weed block:
Thumb of 2016-06-24/robynanne/e77dba

And mulch around it, being careful to not have the mulch built up right on the trunk. Also, you need to be careful that the dirt/mulch isn't covering the graft point because you don't want the host tree to lose control of the tree size, assuming you have dwarf root host.
Thumb of 2016-06-24/robynanne/176e52

With this, I can just take the hose and let it run into the 'bowl' for a long time to make sure it is watered deep. Seems to be making a happy tree so far. :)

Oh, one other thing I did was to use bamboo stakes to help hold the tree in place against wind, as well as to train the lead branch to grow straight up. I won't leave that bamboo there after this summer... but I want to give it time to grow the roots to stabilize it before it gets stressed. After that, it needs to deal with the wind to make it stronger.

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