Over the past few months, members of the club I belong to comment that they have lost trees (killed) to including JBP’s, maples or junipers. I to have lost trees. I assume this happens to others. None of these results are openly explored to determine the cause for the death. My assumption is that the death is related to something I did or something l did not do. My question is to learn from this death so l do not repeat the same death the next time on my next purchase of the same tree. Is it correct to conduct an autopsy on my dead trees to learn from this experience. If this can be done please tell me how!
I always try to figure out what’s gone wrong when a tree dies. Checking the foliage and the roots can sometimes provide clues, but by the time the tree dies it’s often too late to know for sure. I find it’s most helpful to follow up on any signs of weakness as soon as I spot them so I have a chance to follow up and learn more.
There are so many variables to consider that i consider daily observation of the trees critical to gaining insight into why we lose trees. Sometimes the reason is fairly obvious, identifiable disease, insect damage, root rot. Often i feel it is a combination of circumstances that leads to their demise.
The key offenders appear to be, husbandry errors in watering, soil conditions, placement of species. Followed frequently by amount of work done at one time or the wrong time. Then one has to consider the aftercare required for certain techniques and situations.
Keeping track of condition changes and work done often provides a great starting point for diagnosis.
Observing changes when they begin to occur is critical, once the tree is dead i question what can be learned. I have found seeking advice early from someone who works with that species locally is an excellent first step.
Also, I think that one of the ‘mysterious death’ effects sometimes comes after letting ceramic pots receive full sun in the Summer. the sun can literally bake the trees roots, at least the ones at the edge of the pot. Roots like to stay cool and usually are when in the ground. When we put them in a artificial environment, then we need to protect the roots from excessive heat in the Summer. I wrap my ceramic pots with aluminum foil, at least the ones that are receiving full sun. I also live in S. Ga. (zone 8B). Perhaps the sun is not as ‘brutal’ up north.
Good Point. The sun is pretty hot here in the summer. I must admit that most of my trees that are in pots are kept on the benches in more protected areas. Trees in grow boxes or grow beds are more exposed. I have not experienced any of the pot heating issues. We usually do not experience more than 85 to 90 degree Fahrenheit summer days though. If i expect very hot sunny weather i shift more sensitive trees to more protected areas. A bigger problem for me is to protect trees from too much rain in the winter. Inorganic substrate with reasonable particle size and bottom drainage layer is the rule of thumb in my nursery. Even in the grow beds.