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Mr. Smarty Plants - Transplant rootbound tree now from Kerrville TX

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Sunday - June 10, 2012

From: Kerrville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Trees
Title: Transplant rootbound tree now from Kerrville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased a Blanco Crabapple tree. Should I plant it now or wait until Fall? (It is currently rootbound.) Second question: Our Mountain Laurel has a dead trunk and one trunk has already died. I cannot see a worm or insect of any kind. What can I do?? Thanks

ANSWER:

Follow this plant link to our webpage on Malus ioensis var. texana (Texas crabapple). For more information, see this Temple College site on Texas Crabapple. From the second website:

"A very showy smll tree that is uncommon in the wild. The flowers are pink and white and look like single rose blooms. The fruits are a small sour green apple."

We are sorry that you had not read up on transplants before you purchased this plant. We always recommend that woody plants (trees and shrubs) not be planted until November to February, when the weather is cooler and the plants dormant, to avoid transplant shock. In the same vein, we recommend they not be purchased until it is planting time. You probably got a good price on it, but if a plant dies, that's a waste of resources, including time, money, water and back muscles.

So, now, basically we have two problems: one that it is the wrong time to plant and two, that it really needs to be gotten out of that pot. So, we are going out on a limb (excuse the pun) and make our own suggestion. This tree is a member of the Rosaceae family, which doesn't tend to make huge roots nor to object to planting at the wrong time of the year. We think you should go ahead and get it out of that pot and into the ground, but get the ground ready before you take it out of the pot. Until then, keep it in part shade, and give it water when the top of the soil is dry.

Next, get the hole ready. Select a partly shady area in your garden (2 to 6 hours of sun a day). Dig a good big hole, bigger around than the diameter of the pot, because you already know there is too much root in that pot. Mix into the native dirt a nice amount of good quality compost, to help with drainage and making it possible for small new rootlets to get out into the dirt and access nutrients. For the actual planting we recommend you wait until late in the day, maybe even after sunset, and/or work in the shade. Lift the plant out of the pot. With some good sharp garden nippers, clip through some of the wrapped-aound roots. You need to be ruthless about this, because if the roots are not forced out into the soil, they will just keep wrapping around until they strangle the plant.

Set the clipped plant into the prepared hole, just slightly lower than the surface of the ground around the soil. Now fill in the mixed soil around the plant, letting it be a little higher than the top of the soil in the pot, because as you water, the soil will sink. Stick a hose deep down into the new soft dirt and let the water dribble very slowly until it comes to the surface. Do this about twice a week until the leaves start to perk up. Do not overhead water it, as from a sprinkler. Members of the Rose Family are very susceptible to fungus and rusts.

Don't fertilize. the Blanco Crabapple is native to a very small portion of Central Texas, and native plants rarely need fertilizer because they are already accustomed to the climate, soil and rain. When the plant has kind of settled in, you might want to trim away some of the foliage, especially any that is thin or bare, to take some of the load off the roots which are trying to re-establish themselves after the root pruning. Spread about 4 inches of a good quality shredded bark compost on the root area, without letting it get up against the trunk. This will help to keep weeds down, protect the roots from heat and cold, hold moisture in and, as it decomposes, improve the texture of the soil.

Even after all this, the plant still may not survive, but you will have done your best plus, we hope, learned a lesson about when to buy and plant woody plants.

Now, about the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). First, determine if the dead and/or dying branches are really dead, using the thumbnail test. Starting on a limb as high as you can reach, scratch a thin sliver of bark off with your thumbnail. If you find a thin layer of green beneath that bark, that limb, at least, is still alive. From this previous answer on a dead or dying Texas Mountain Laurel, perhaps you will get some clues. You might also investigate and see if some damage has been done, perhaps by gardening equipment, to the trunks that have died.

Beyond that, except for "dead" we don't have many leads to know what has gone wrong. We are going to link you to some more previous questions and websites on the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) to see if you can pick up relevant information.

Previous answers:

Lopidea

Aphids

Mountain Laurels dying in Georgetown

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas crabapple
Malus ioensis var. texana

Texas crabapple
Malus ioensis var. texana

Texas crabapple
Malus ioensis var. texana

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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