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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - June 24, 2009

From: State College, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: My newly planted Redbuds are not doing well.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I ordered and received 2 Red Bud trees from one of the popular ordering houses. They explained that they were dormant and not dead, and gave us instructions on how to plant them, which we followed. They have been in the ground for about 3 weeks or so now, and they still look like when we put them in. How long should it be before I will know that they have taken?

ANSWER:

Redbuds Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is a popular  ornamental because of its brilliant early spring flowers, displayed en masse on the bare branches before the plant has leafed out. The species occurs from the Atlantic coast to central Texas.

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that your Redbuds, and perhaps you, are suffering transplant shock . When a plant is replanted, the first order of business is for it to get the roots established in order to get water and minerals to the upper portion of the plant. Until this is done, the rest of the plant doesn't look so good. To check for viability, you can give your plants the "thumbnail test"; scratch a small portion of the bark away with your thumbnail to see if there is green tissue underneath. Finding green tissue is a good sign.  Start near the tip of a twig; if you don't find live tissue, work your way down the branch until you do.  If you find no green tissue anywhere on the tree - including beneath the trunk's bark, then it's dead.

This article from Northscaping.com offers very good information about transplant shock and how to deal with it. One of its recommendations is patience; your plants have been in the ground for only three weeks.

 


Cercis canadensis

 

 

 

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