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Tuesday - April 02, 2013

From: Porter, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Slow development in Shumard Oak from Porter TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had two Shumard Oaks Planted in Sept of last year (2012). About a month later, they started browning and dropping their leaves (no color change). Now I noticed on one of the trees the buds have started producing leaves, but the leaves are yellowish. Call me silly but I thought they were supposed to be green when they first budded. The other tree, has some buds, that seem to be getting bigger but it is doing so at a much slower rate. I am wondering if I need to contact the nursery where I got them, or is it nothing to worry about.

ANSWER:

If they were planted by a nursery, that should certainly be your first call. A lot of plants are developing a little late this year because of the heat and drought. The nursery should have given you instructions about watering the trees. When we recommend care of newly-planted trees, we always suggest sticking a hose down in the (hopefully) soft soil around the tree and letting the hose drip slowly until water appears on the surface. September is a little early, in our judgment, to plant a tree. We like to see woody plants, trees and shrubs, planted  in cold weather, November to January, while the plants are semi-dormant. Especially having planted the tree in the still-hot month of September, you should have been doing that deep watering about two times a week until the end of November or heavy rains (which, you know, we didn't have.)

Our diagnosis is transplant shock, which could have been caused by lack of water, being planted in the heat, root damage, the roots being pot-bound (left in the pot too long and roots winding around), or even the tree having been out of the ground too long before it was planted. If the trees are leafing out on all the branches, that is a good sign. However, transplant shock can manifest itself 3 years after planting, so the trees should be watched and tenderly cared for. DO NOT FERTILIZE. The purpose of fertilizer is to force new growth, stressing a tree that is obviously already stressed.

Note the growing condition of Quercus shumardii (Shumard oak):

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Quercus shumardii is a relatively fast-growing and adaptable oak. This species is quite drought resistant and also withstands short-term flooding. It is similar to the Texas or Spanish oak, but prefers deeper soils and tends to grow taller and straighter. Provides good fall foliage color."

According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, the Shumard Oak is native in the region of Montgomery County. We always like to check this to help ensure that the soils, climate and rainfall are appropriate for the plant in question. 

 

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