Trees and Shrubs forum: Profusion Flowering Crabapple

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Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Mjjrh
May 16, 2017 6:26 PM CST
We just bought and planted our first crabapple tree 2 days ago. It was in bloom when we purchased it and looked beautiful. Yesterday we noticed the flowers were starting to wilt on the whole tree and today they have wilted even more and the leaves/flowers look like they are dying (see pictures). We did have a storm come through the night we planted. We followed recommendations of adding amended soil, watering and placing a layer of mulch in top. Could the tree just be stressed from the planting and storm or is there something else we should be worried about?

Picture 1 = before we bought the tree
Picture 2 = 1 day after planting and a storm
Picture 3 = 2 days after planting

Thumb of 2017-05-17/Mjjrh/136234
Thumb of 2017-05-17/Mjjrh/c58793
Thumb of 2017-05-17/Mjjrh/466d75
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 16, 2017 6:31 PM CST
Welcome!

It looks like it needs water. Did you water it well in the pot before you planted it, and have you watered it since? Also did you plant it with or without disturbing the roots?
[Last edited by sooby - May 16, 2017 6:32 PM (+)]
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Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Mjjrh
May 16, 2017 6:54 PM CST
We planted it disturbing the roots. We shook out a lot of the soil the roots were all wrapped around and loosened up the roots. We didn't water it in the pot, but watered it with 2 gallons immediately after planting and it took a long time to absorb into the soil so we did not add more. They did recommend 5 gallons, so maybe we didn't give it enough. However, it has rained quite a bit the last 2 days here.

After looking into it more, or looks like we did improper mulching as we had the mulch in contact with the tree trunk. Could this be part of the cause?
Thumb of 2017-05-17/Mjjrh/30be9f

I am also wondering if we could have compacted the soil too much. I was stomping on the soil pretty good. When I water it, the water just sits there and takes a long time to absorb. The 2nd 1/2 gallon I just added hasn't been fully absorbed after 10+ minutes (note I took the mulch out)
Thumb of 2017-05-17/Mjjrh/7cc328

[Last edited by Mjjrh - May 16, 2017 7:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
May 16, 2017 7:42 PM CST
I think your main problem is that you shook the potting mix off the roots, so you basically turned it into a bare-root plant that was in full leaf and flower at the time. No, the problem is not the mulch.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 15, 2017 12:17 PM CST
If the roots are pot bound and wound around eachother, you need to shake off the soil and spread out the roots, you did fine there. Water alot. If the water is not draining/soaking in timely, but just standing there, your soil has too much clay. Do NOT EVER stomp on the soil around the tree after planting it. What you did was tear the roots away from the tree. That will kill it. It is advisable to plant a tree while it is dormant or at least earlier in the year. You may need to stake a tree for the first year to two until it roots sturdily or the wind can move it around and keep it from rooting tight. This also will tear roots away from the tree.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jun 15, 2017 1:43 PM CST
I would have to disagree that shaking the soil off the roots when the plant is in full leaf and flower is an OK thing to do. It was already wilting the day after planting - that shouldn't happen with a container grown tree. That's why plants are sold in containers, so that they can be planted any time of year and not just when dormant. A tree in full leaf and flower is going to need all the root it can keep and shaking the soil off them is going to damage them. I do agree about the stomping, that's also not a good thing to do. But I imagine since a month has passed the tree has either also passed or revived by now.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 15, 2017 4:51 PM CST
I agree that loosening the soil is bad when it is in full bloom. But the whole idea here is that trees should not be root bound when you buy them, that is a bad nursery practice. If you plant the tree as it is, it will continue to grow the roots in a circular motion eventually killing itself. That is why I noted that it is best to plant when the tree is dormant. Well it is best to buy a tree from a reputable nursery that won't sell you a tree that is pot bound in that manner to begin with.
The tree in question is probably going to die.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jun 16, 2017 4:35 AM CST
I don't know if it has been studied in Malus but in certain other trees it was found that after a while most of the roots of a previously containered tree had been initiated above the circling roots that were present at the time of planting. If you check out the Arbor Day Foundation page on planting a container tree they suggest slicing the outside of the intact rootball if the tree is rootbound, but they do stress "Carefully remove the tree from the container keeping the soil around the roots intact"

https://www.arborday.org/trees...

Another thing that is not recommended, although it is often still suggested, is to amend the backfill unless the native soil is really terrible. The tree will generally do better if the hole is backfilled with the native soil.

Yes, for sure any potentially girdling roots should be addressed, I do agree there but the majority of the rootball should not be disturbed. It is also better to water it in the pot a while before planting it. In this case it was not watered beforehand and "a lot" of the soil was removed. Whether the nursery was reputable or not, or how bad any circling roots were we don't know but it even if rootbound it should have survived after planting at least in the short term if the root system was not disturbed.. Perhaps the tree has been replaced by the nursery.

As I said, a month has passed so by now it has either died, recovered or been replaced I would imagine.

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