A few years ago, I pulled out some Red Cedars on the West side of my
house, because they were causing problems with Cedar Apple Rust. In
their place, I planted two young Emerald Green Arborvitae. After one
year, one of them needed
to be replaced. The following year, the other original tree need
this year the older of the two again looks like it is going. These
trees were bought
at a reputable nursery in my Chicago area, and I had to pay 50% of cost
replacement. There were no signs of insect damage. The trees were
planted properly and are cared for regularly with proper watering and
fertilizing. What I did
observe when buying them that therewas that there was some die-back
inside the tree, near the trunk. The nursery said this was normal for
these trees. Also, these
trees are rated for partial to full sun, so a half day's sun they
receive should be enough. I'm wondering if the nursery is just selling
bad stock, although this problem
has been going on for several years, and they have had time to switch
Right now, the trees are growing for a year, or so, and then dying. The
coming out in a few days to inspect the trees, but they will probably
find some excuse to claim it was my fault the trees died. I have heard
horror stories of nurseries knowingly selling defective stock and not
caring for the consequences.
I don't suspect a soil problem, since the Red Cedars had grown there for
many years, and I have yews and apple trees nearby who are doing ok.
If the arborvitaes were sold balled and burlapped, there is a chance that
you didn't care for them properly - not by your own fault but because the
nursery owners didn't explain what sort of care they need. Balled and
burlapped plants are often grown in an especially dense clay. (That helps to
keep the soil tight around the roots when they are dug). The problem is that
with that sort of clay, if the root ball ever dries out in the first year or
however long it takes for the roots inside to get out and into your own
soil, it is nearly impossible to rewet it - because the clay becomes
impermeable, almost like a brick, and will repel water. So, if you were
watering with a regular sprinkler system or some such device, and it was
wetting the top inch or so of the root ball, but the clay in the part
underneath that dried out, the entire plant would eventually die. Once roots
grow outside of that clay ball, they will usually find a way to get water
from your soil, but until that time, they are dependent on whatever moisture
is in that clay.
Thanks for the reply greg,
I think I gave the trees adequate watering, soaking them well on each
I didn't want to flood the trees either. Actually, my soil is black to about 1
foot down, and quickly transitions over to almost pure clay. I have planted
wrapped in burlap (of course removing the burlap before planting), and never had
problem like this. I take it you are suggesting deep watering following
planting to soak through the clay, followed by repeated such watering, for at
least the first year.
We have had an unusually cool summer with more than normal rainfall, but it is
possible the clay formed a barrier around the root ball and prevented moisture
getting to the roots. I'm having someone from the nursery come out tomorrow to
inspect the trees, so we will hear what he has to say.
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