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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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Thursday - June 18, 2009

From: Calgary, AB
Region: Canada
Topic: Planting, Transplants
Title: Transplanted crabapple tree problems in Alberta
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We transplanted a crabapple tree a couple of weeks ago. There was an abundance of clay in the soil where it was re-planted and even with all the watering, it isn't doing well. Any suggestions on how to save it? Thanks.

ANSWER:

It is very difficult to diagnose plant difficulties without more information.  What crabapple variety is it?  What size? How long was it in it's previous location?  What was the location like (sunlight,drainage)? What are the symptoms of "not doing well"?  Flagging leaves and tender new growth?  Leaf drop? Dried leaves that didn't drop?

That being said, crabapples are very tough trees that will thrive in lots of sun and dry conditions.  So if I had to stick my scrawny green neck out I might guess that in it's new location (ie clay soil) it might be suffering from too much water.  More plants die of too much than not enough and unforunately, both conditions share the same most obvious symptom, droopy leaves. If you destroyed a significant amount of the rootsystem while transplanting and it can no longer support the top of the tree you can prune a maximum of a third of the top, keeping in mind that the tree needs the leaves to produce food to regenerate the root system.  So it's a bit of a balancing act!

If there is a Master Gardener assosication in your area, you might want to call them or ask at the garden centre where you purchased the tree.

 

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