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Monday, April 23, 2018

Cause of Dieback in Newly Planted Peach or Apricot

Q. Dying leaves on peach or apricot?

These fruit trees recently planted, whitewashed and the tops cut off. New growth occurred below the cut but it proceeded to die.

A. Not much information to go on with this question so I will give a broad response. From batch breaks pictures sent with this message, the fruit trees appear to be newly planted, whitewashed and the central stem pruned at about waist height.

Bareroot trees must be handled carefully

            If this tree was newly planted and bareroot (no container), it must be staked firmly in place, so roots do not move during the first few months of growth. Securing the tree solidly, in one place, encourages strong, future rooting.
            I assume the soil was amended with compost at the time of planting for better rooting and drainage. Build a donut or moat around the tree, 2 to 3 feet in diameter, to contain water from a hose. Water the tree with a hose once a day for three days in a row to settle the soil around the roots and remove air pockets.

How to water

            When that is finished, water every other day during warm times of the year. Make sure to skip at least one day before watering so that roots can "breathe". Watering every day for a month could suffocate roots and kill the tree or at least cause it to be sickly.
            Bareroot tree roots dry and die quickly. These important roots provide water and nutrients from the soil and are very small. Not large. These tiny roots dry out and die in seconds. Excessive drying of these roots causes “transplant shock” resulting in slow growth after planting.

Protect the tiniest of roots from drying out

            Bareroot trees can be finicky. You don’t see bareroot trees sold much anymore to homeowners. Only experienced gardeners should buy them. The roots of these trees must be kept moist from the time they leave the nursery until they are planted.

How to identify overly dried roots
The feeder roots of plants, responsible for the majority of water and nutrient uptake by plants, is even smaller than these small white roots of Myers lemon growing in a container.

            A common symptom of bareroot trees that have excessively dry roots is a short, flush of new growth after planting followed by their death. The death of new growth looks like a lack of water. And in reality, it is. Roots have died and can no longer supply water to new growth.
            If you think this might be the case, wait and see what happens after planting. In about two months, if you do not see new growth then the tree is dead and should be replaced.


  1. Thanks Bob! This tree was purchased from the local nursery. My bay laurel trees are fine! Also might have another one doing the same thing from the local orchard purches.

  2. Thanks! It seems I might have another one doing this a donut peach all from the local orchard purchase! My bay laurel trees are doing fine!