Trees require an extraordinary amount of tender love and care. No one knows that better than the experts at Mr. Tree. We’ve been servicing the residential and commercial tree industries for more than 30 years. So we know what it takes to make a tree flourish and how incredibly frustrating it is when it doesn’t. If you have a newly planted tree that’s wilting, you’ve come to the right place to find the potential cause, as well as the best possible solution. Here are some of the most common reasons your newly planted tree might be wilting and what steps you can take to restore its health.
If your tree isn’t getting enough water, then it will obviously begin to dry out and wilt. But the opposite is true as well. Overwatering your tree can also cause wilting to occur. That’s because your trees require oxygen and giving them too much water prevents the roots from properly absorbing the air needed to survive.
So how much water should you be giving your tree? That depends on a variety of factors, including tree species, time of year, and weather. Generally speaking, trees require two deep waterings per week during their main growing seasons, which are spring and summer. On the other hand, in the fall and winter, trees require a watering session only once every few weeks.
So how do you know if your tree is receiving too much or too little water? A good way to tell is by checking the soil around the tree. Insert a shovel into the soil roughly six inches from the tree trunk. Lift the shovel blade and take a look at the soil. It should be moist but not muddy. If the soil appears to be too damp, you should reduce your watering frequency. If the soil appears to be too dry, then you’ll want to give it a deep watering.
As you’ve already seen, soil conditions can greatly impact a tree’s health. If the soil is too dry or too damp, then your tree will likely begin to wilt. But perhaps the water around your newly planted wilting tree appears just right. Then what other things could be impeding your tree’s growth?
In addition to examining the soil’s moisture levels, you also want to be checking the pH levels. The most desirable pH level is dependent on tree type and growing climate. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral, while a pH level lower than that is considered acidic. A pH level higher than 7 is considered alkaline. Trees generally favor slightly acidic to neutral pH levels. An imbalanced pH level will typically cause your tree to be nutrient deficient.
Test your soil pH, which can easily be done by purchasing a home test kit from your local garden center, and adjust the soil’s pH level as needed. If the soil is too acidic, the application of a liming material will typically balance it out. If the soil is too alkaline, applying sulfur or aluminum sulfate will lower the pH level to a more neutral level. This guide will help you calculate the application rates for each.
Another common reason newly planted trees may wilt is transplant shock. If your tree was transplanted from a nursery, for instance, then it may experience a number of stressors that cause it to become poorly established in its new environment. There are steps you can take, however, to minimize the risk of transplant shock.
Begin by planting the tree as soon as possible upon delivery. Choose your planting site carefully, being sure that the tree will get an adequate amount of sunlight and that the location has fertile and well-drained soil. Try to plant during the dormant season, and plant the roots at the same depth at which they were previously grown. Examine the roots closely and remove any that are broken or damaged. Spread out the remaining roots evenly, and be sure to backfill with soil that came from the original hole.
Once your tree is planted, be sure to protect it from winter injury and wind damage. Cover the entire root zone with a layer of mulch, but be careful not to apply too much. You should apply a layer about two to four inches deep and leave a gap between the mulch and the trunk of the tree.
Allow your tree to establish itself for at least a year before fertilizing it. You’ll want to give it time to recover from the transplant shock. You should also avoid treating the soil with too much fertilizer. Just as when you overwater your tree, applying too much fertilizer can actually do more harm than good.
There are also several types of diseases that may be causing your trees to wilt. Once a tree is fully infected, options for controlling these diseases become limited. In some cases, however, you may be able to prevent the disease from spreading to healthy parts of the tree by promptly pruning and removing all wilting and dead branches.
In some cases, chemical controls may also be applied. However, this should only be done by a qualified professional. If you suspect your newly planted tree has become diseased, you should contact a certified arborist to see whether the tree can be salvaged or if it should instead be removed.
Environmental factors can also be to blame for tree wilt. But more often than not, it’s how we’re caring for our trees that’s at the root of the problem. If you’ve explored all of these potential causes and still can’t seem to figure out why your newly planted tree is wilting, give Mr. Tree a call. We’ll be able to assess the situation and make the appropriate recommendations. Caring for trees is certainly a labor of love, but we want to help you make sure there’s more love than labor involved.