My Sad 10 year old Paperbark Maple

Discussion in 'Maples' started by LucyM, Jul 20, 2005.

  1. LucyM

    LucyM Member

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    I have a paperbark maple that was a Mother's Day Gift in 1995. It has not grown very tall, at most 7 feet. This year it seems in terminal distress as there is no new growth and it is dying off. It is planted slightly raised to keep it out of standing water. It is in the SW area of the yard, yet is somewhat shaded from intense afternoon sun by a garage. It does get full late aft. and evening sun. I have a North American Maple (grown from seed) that is only 5 years old and twice the size in the same basic soil on the SE area of the yard. I do have clay soil PH 5.7, but planted the paperbark by first digging a very large hole and using a good mix (10 yrs. ago).
    If anyone can help me to figure out why it has never grown, and why it is now dying off, I would so appreciate it. I have used 20-20-20 a couple of times a year.
    Lucy (Northcoast B.C.)
     
  2. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    Lucy, I suggest that you set aside a place to heel in your tree for an afternoon, dig it up, inspect the roots and heel it in while you fix the planting site. On this site remove the amended soil and replace it with an indigenous type of soil. Perhaps raising the planting area a bit higher. Replant the tree on this improved site or another site without amending the soil. Plant high with the topmost roots covered with mineral soil no more than about a 1/4". Water in thoroughly but slowly, re-adjust the soil surface and mulch with 3" of pine straw or other appropriate mulch, keeping the mulch about 3" away from the trunk. Do not fertilize this tree for a season and if all goes well I would suggest an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Holly Tone or a similar product. I think that your roots are drowning or are being suffocated and often amending a slow draining, clay soil will make it worse. Toss those pavers too.
    Your tree now :
     

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  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Top does look like it's having a problem with the planting hole being backfilled with acidic, humic materials without any(?) mineral material. Fertilizing with the right combination of nutrients, if you were able to determine what that was somehow*, might be adequate to bring your tree around without replanting, but later there would probably still be the problem of the organic mix in the planting pit having decomposed, leaving the tree below grade, perhaps in a mire (if the hole is receiving water from the unaltered, claylike soil around the hole). After 10 years, maybe that is partly what is happening now, the tree hasn't sunk but the planting mix may be badly deteriorated. Dig next to it and look at the material around the roots, a boggy/mucky appearance or odor would be a definite hint.

    If you decide to lift it and redo it, search "Chalker-Scott" on the www, then click on 'Fact Sheets' for modern informaton about planting.

    *Sample the rest of the property and send it to a soils lab to determine likely fertilization needs, if any, before buying and applying any fertilizer products. If done promptly, there may be time yet to turn any malingering plants around this growing season. Otherwise, fall is the best time to fertilize hardy plants. It is also the best time to plant and transplant them, except in frigid climates. This is when I would lift and replant your maple.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2005
  4. LucyM

    LucyM Member

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    Hello Elmore, Thanks for your response.
    We've had the tree for ten years, but replanted it 4 yrs. ago and
    raised it about 6 inches. I think you're right that the roots were
    suffocating, as we had a lot of other plant matter around the base,
    that was very invasive, I'm hoping that now that we have removed the
    other plant materials it will give the maple a chance to come back. I
    think the other plant materials were depleting the maple of nutrients.
    What composition would the fertilizer you mentioned have? If I remove
    the pavers, what edging material could I use to contain the mulch?
    With my soil being on the sour side, would a small amount of lime be
    beneficial or harmful?
    Cheers, Lucy
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Elmore cannot tell you what fertilizer to use without reading a soil test report for the site.
     
  6. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    Somewhat like Espoma Plant Tone, dehydrated manure; feather meal; crab meal; cocoa meal, corn gluten, bone meal, dried blood, sunflower meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, greensand, rock phosphate, sulfate of potash, sulfate of potash magnesia, and humates.

    What edging material to contain the mulch? Gravity...perhaps a shallow trenching.

    Would a small amount of lime be beneficial or harmful? Light application may not hurt...best to get a soil analysis first to see where you stand.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The lawn looks like it is deficient also. Think in terms of limiting factors, you have to identify which factors are inhibiting the plant and address all of them before a complete response can be expected. Probably the area is both too damp and lacking fertility; if it is also too acidic, that may have to be corrected as well.
     

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