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Wednesday - May 16, 2012

From: Haskell, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Planting, Trees
Title: Cultivar of Cercis Canadensis from Haskell OK
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Hearts of Gold Redbud that first had dark edges to many of its leaves (about 2 weeks after planting). It now has multiple leaves w/ medium-dark brown spots on them. Are we looking at some sort of leaf blight, or do we have a bug problem on the tree??? We are located in NE Oklahoma, and the weather has been mid 80's for weeks. We are very good about watering the trees and shrubs. The tree is unshaded, on the sunny side of the house. THe ball was planted in a mound, and mulch is all around the tree; but the bulge at the base of the trunk has been left uncovered.

ANSWER:

First, 'Hearts of Gold' Redbud is a selection of Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) and therefore will not be in our Native Plant Database. But it will be closely related and we will try relying on the information on the native tree to help you discover what your tree's problem is. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it native to Muskogee County, so we can assume your soils and climate are right for the tree. One thing that is puzzling us is your description of how it is planted in a mound. That's not ordinarily recommended for planting trees, but we have no idea what negative effect, if any, it would have on the tree. We do know that the root zone of a redbud needs to protected from cold by the soil over it, and a good layer of mulch. We haven't kept track of the temperatures in Oklahoma over the last year, but if this tree has been in the ground more than a few months, the roots might have gotten too cold.

And since we are discussing when it was planted, when WAS it planted? Dropping leaves like this sounds a lot like transplant shock. In the Southwest, we recommend that trees be planted in cooler weather, like November to January, when they are dormant and will be less likely to be damaged. Some small rootlets may have been damaged in the transplant process. Also, were arrangements made for good drainage around the roots? We realize that is probably what the mound is all about, but if it is clay soil without added compost or other organic materials, the roots could still be trapped in a non-draining soil.

Because this is a nursery-generated tree, it is difficult to find an impartial evaluation of it; most nursery websites have nothing but good to say about their products. However, from North Carolina State University Extension Redbud 'Hearts of Gold', we found this article. Here is an extract from that article:

"Redbud can be difficult to establish, however, particularly bare-rooted trees. Small potted plants are the easiest to establish and late fall to early spring dormant planting is best. Because redbud has a very shallow root system, planting trees at the proper depth is critical for best performance and survival."

Unless your time machine is working, it will be difficult to go back and correct that. About the best we can do for you is recommend you mulch the "mound" without allowing the mulch to stack up against the trunk. Then, to water, stick a hose down deep in the dirt close to the trunk and let water drip slowly into the soil until water appears on the surface. Once a week now and twice a week in the Summer until the tree seems to be recovering should be sufficient. Don't fertilize! Fertilizing will just add stress to a plant already under stress.

As for the very small insects you are seeing, we did a check on "insects and pests of redbud." You might check these sites out for similar symptoms:

Auburn University A Guide to Recognition and Habits of Species Damaging Foliage of Ornamental Redbud Trees

doityourself.com Redbud Trees Pests and Diseases

Generally, if an insect is involved, the best people to know if it is a threat, and/or what to do about it would be the Oklahoma State University Extension Office for Muskogee County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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