Wal Mart Cherry trees dying

I bought a 4-on-1 sweet cherry tree at Wal Mart in central PA in late March / early April and was reasonably diligent about watering it, but the leaves withered and died and there's been no new growth. Today (Memorial Day weekend) I ran down to a different Wal Mart. They had two dwarf Bing cherry trees left. Both looked about the same as mine. One was completely dead and the other's central leader was the only part left with any green leaves. I poked my finger into the root ball / soil and it was moist. Anybody else notice the same thing? Are Wal Mart's cherry trees diseased, or is the root system so limited that you have to keep the ground soaked to keep them from dying? What happened?
RWL
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This is not necessarily a wal-mart problem. I have noticed problems with prunus species that have been overwintered in hoop houses. We had several varieties that leafed out, then melted down and died. There was no new root growth at all. Im not sure what causes this, but we had cherries that came from willoway nurseries, overwintered outdoors, and looked great. Something about the higher temps in the frames is killing them off, then they use the carbohydrates they have left to leaf out and start growing. When they run out of carbs, they die.
Toad
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I do not buy plants from WalMart or Home Depot or anyone else who is not a nursery. But, I will buy equipment from WalMart and Home Depot.
Dick
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On Mon, 30 May 2005 06:03:02 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@smart.net (Dick Adams) wrote:

No choice around here. The local nursery doesn't stock cherry trees and neither do any of the other big box stores. Wal Mart is the only place to get fruit trees around here. I tried mail order trees, but it's been hit and miss with bare root trees for me.
RWL
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then try a better mail order. like raintree, who replaces anything wrong immediately. or Bay Laurel.
the big problem with those other places is they graft incompatible species, like peach onto nanking cherry or bush cherry roots. they always fail. Ingrid

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I suspect that anything still at a discount store for more than a week will probably start showing signs of neglect. I think that the more expensive the plant you're looking for, the more you need to purchase from a local nursery/grower.
Suzy, zone 5, Wisconsin

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The nurseries around here don't seem to carry fruit trees. I've had three Cherry trees from Miller Nurseries never quite turn the corner and die in a few years. This year I was delighted to find cherry trees at Wal Mart since they weren't bare root. I bought the tree shortly after its arrival and it appeared to be in good shape when I planted it. I watered it with 5 gallons about once a week. In early spring here there was adequate rainfall, and when we had a week with perhaps an inch of rain, I didn't water that week. The tree got as much water as other trees I've planted which survived. I'm not sure what was wrong with this tree.
RWL
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RWL wrote: [...]

A tree takes 2 to 5 years to establish, so as long as the tree is actually surviving, I wouldn't worry too much. It's early days yet -- wait to see if it puts out new leaves later this season. Partial dieback is common in the first year or two, and often transplanted trees seem do to nothing at all for the first couple of years.
I also assume that the tree is suitable for your Zone - cherries are fussy, and if you're in a fringe area for cherry trees, there will be problems. They don't like the cold, and they don't like the heat. Walmart and other big box stores etc often sell material that is _not_ suitable for your Zone. That being said, here are a few additional points to consider, for any transplanted trees.
a) If the soil has layer of water retaining stuff at the wrong depth, you may actually be drowning the tree's roots. Soil should be moist but not wet.
b) While extra watering is needed in the first year of transplanting a tree, after that it should receive no more than any other plants in your area.
c) Over-watering can leach fertilisers from the soil.
d) Use a specialised tree and shrub fertiliser as recommended. I used spikes at the drip lone the first couple of years after transplanting an oak, which helped it establish it. (It was about 2-1/2 ft high 25 years ago, and now is approaching 30 ft.)
e) It's not too late to give the tree a dose of bone meal to help it develop its root system. If the drip line is about 3 ft out from the trunk, work about a pound into the top soil under the tree and about 1 ft beyond the drip line, and water lightly. Then water as usual.
f) There should be a circle of well mulched cleared soil around the trunk of the tree, about 3 ft in diameter.
g) Finally: while trees are generally very adaptable, soil that is too acid or too basic is not good. Do you know the pH of your soil?
HTH&GL
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