British Columbia: Katsura dilemma

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Rosita, Aug 24, 2021.

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  1. Rosita

    Rosita New Member

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    I planted a Katsura in my front yard 3 years ago and up until this summer it was doing great and is about 15 feet tall. My yard faces south and is brutally hot in a normal summer so I was looking forward to the shade the Katsura would provide. Even though I’ve watered it through this terribly hot summer it is stressed. If these hot summers are the future I don’t know if I will be able to water it in the years to come. I’m struggling with whether I should take out this healthy tree and replace it with something more drought tolerant that will be able to survive and provide shade in the years to come. Any thoughts or advice.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Is it mulched?
     
  3. Rosita

    Rosita New Member

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    Yes. And it was watered weekly.
     
  4. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I am facing the same dilemma but where I live in Nanoose Bay, we have far more stringent watering restrictions than you in Qualicum Beach. There are a number of plants in my garden that I think I will have to let go because there is simply too much heat and too little water for them to thrive. And, what's the point of having a garden if the plants don't look healthy?

    If I were you, I'd give the Katsura another year or maybe two and see if you can improve its appearance by giving it more water and making sure it is well mulched as @Ron B suggests. It would be best to water it slowly over a long period of time with a drip irrigation or similar set up. I read that "Katsuras have moderate watering needs overall but may need more frequent watering in dry areas, although it is somewhat drought-tolerant once established. Water as needed to keep the soil moist (but not wet) until the tree is well established, then water according to seasonal conditions."

    Have you seen another Katsuras in your area growing in similar conditions to yours? That could give you a clue as to how yours may fare in the future.
     
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  5. Rosita

    Rosita New Member

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    Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your advice.

    I do have two very large Katsura trees near me, both probably about 30 years old and 30-40 ft high. They are both showing signs of stress on the crown and outer leaves. I don’t know how many episodes of serious drought they will be able to survive. I’m convinced that we have seen the future this summer and I want to leave behind trees that will have a fighting chance to cope with what is ahead. It just seems so drastic to take down a tree that is only showing moderate stress right now in anticipation of harder times ahead. It will be painful.

    I have been researching drought tolerant trees and have found good information published by the City of Vancouver.
    If I take out the Katsura I would like to replace it with an Emerald Sunshine elm, recommended as a drought and heat tolerant street tree but locating one has been difficult. I intend to put in 4 more drought tolerant shade trees as both my front and back yards are very hot and I would have appreciated the shade this summer.

    We have been lucky in Qualicum with our watering but I don’t know how much longer that will last. I too am taking out some perennials, about 30, and only keeping drought tolerant plants or ones to support pollinators. I think that we will have to adapt our gardens in the future to suit our new climate but fortunately there are lots of lovely plants that will thrive without much water.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Katsura is adapted to a summer monsoon climate with abundant rain and very high summer humidity - it is always going to struggle with dry summers. Better to go for something that can take dry summers well, like your local native Quercus garryana, or maybe Quercus lobata if you want a better chance at beating a warming climate.
     
  7. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Abundant water should be available in Qualicum Beach for the foreseeable future but would the lack of humidity still doom the tree?

    Much as I love the many Quercus garryana I have on my property, I would not recommend it as a replacement for a Katsura in a front garden location in QB where good behaviour is more important than the high-maintenance, unruly Garry Oak.
     
  8. WesternWilson

    WesternWilson Active Member 10 Years

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    It is also worth noting that a lot of trees that do not normally show hydration stress are showing it this season. We had near record drought this year, I would follow the advice above and cross your fingers that we get more rain in summers going forward. Decide the fate of the tree then!
     
  9. Rosita

    Rosita New Member

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    Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and advice.

    I’m pretty convinced that going forward we will be seeing more 39 degree summers. Not every summer but eventually they may become the norm. My Japanese Snowbell was the only tree that didn’t show any signs of stress this summer. The Japanese maples, fringe trees and heptacodium all had leaf scorch or leaf curl.

    I really want to leave behind trees that will survive our changing climate. I think if I leave the Katsura for a few more years and we have more summers of extreme heat and drought it will be even harder for me to take it out.
     

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