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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Recently Planted African Sumac Leaf Curl

Q. I recently found your blog and wonder if you have any advice for me about an African Sumac that we planted last October. It did beautifully through the winter. About a month ago, I started noticing some leaves curling up, but staying green. Now the lower branches are drooping and over half of the leaves have curled, but stayed green. Rot? Fungus?

I did one treatment of ferti-lome around the base last week. No change.

A. Watering too often and not watering enough can give the same results so I can see how it could be either way. The only way to know for sure is know how wet the soil is when you water again and how much water you are applying.

When you water African sumac, water it with lots of water over a large area under the tree canopy and don’t water again until it is about half gone. One of the problems with tree installations by the contractors who plant for Moon Valley I have been told in the past is the size of the hole they dig for the tree and lack of amendment added to the soil when planting. This could be part of the problem for you as well.

The hole provided for the tree  should be at least three times the size of the container. If this was a 24 inch box tree then it will be a big hole that is dug. The hole does not have to be deeper than the container but three times its width. I don’t know how much amendment was added but it should be about the same volume as the soil taken from the hole.

What can you do now? Remember this in the future but there is not much you can do to a tree that was already planted. I tell people who buy trees to be planted by a contractor from Moon Valley is to pay them extra cash and have them dig the hole wider.

 Buy your own amendment like Viragrow’s compost and provide it for them instead of the bags they bring. Water the tree in the hole AS it is being planted and flood the area planted three times, once a day. Then turn it over to the drip or irrigation system but do not water daily. Provide enough water each time you irrigate to get it down to 18 inches deep.

Water the area under the canopy of the tree at least half its width. All its width is better. Use a four foot long stick of rebar to determine this by pushing it in the soil until it is difficult to push. Water again when the soil in the upper four inches is starting to dry out.

You can use a $10 moisture meter to determine this.

Water when it reads “5-6” in three locations under the tree canopy where you watered.

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