Aspen seedling - should I give up?

tcleigh(6)August 21, 2011


I recently returned from Colorado with a 1 1/2 ft Aspen seedling that was dug up from my fiancees mountain cabin. I put it in a Dixie cup but it immediately began to wilt. I'm watering it regularly but it doesn't look good, completely dried up.

I know Aspens reproduce by suckers and that in digging it up I severed it's connection to its mother plants, but I've heard that seedlings will eventually overcome this transplant shock with regular watering.

Does anyone have any advice? I also brought back some blue spruce seedlings that are doing great so far in their small containers.

Thanks for any help!

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you most likely didnt get enough root system to keep it alive. a dixie cup is way to small. you needed at least a half gal. its better to get them in the fall or spring time.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:56AM
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I'd give up. Aspen 'need' to be in clumps - in nature, they form large colonies connected via roots. When you see them transplanted in gardens, they usually bring 5-6 together with their entire root structure.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 7:40PM
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I have 2 aspens in my yard that I bought and planted about 5 years ago. They are individual trees, with no companions. I am expecting that one day the suckers will pop up though. I do know this though, they grow FAST. 5 summers ago, I fit the 2 in the back of my suburban, and now they are about 20 feet high. Beautiful trees, and lovely sound when it's breezy out, but they have some negatives as well. They get galls, cankers, and have major aphid problems, although none of which have done any kind of real damage. Anyways, as for your sapling, toss it; it's dead. Like Terry said, if you fit it into a dixie cup, you didn't have anywhere close to enough roots. Also, little saplings like that need to be treated like a cutting. You should keep it out if the sun, keep it moist, and keep the humidity high, via a clear enclosed container or plastic bag, to reduce transpiration. I'll also warn you right away that an aspen tree is probably not going to be very happy in zone 7, which is at the warmest edge of it's range. In fact, I would say zone 6 is the warmest I'd go. They require cold winters, and cooler summers, or they will be a disease and insect magnet. Might I suggest a white poplar instead, if you must have this type of tree? They are more suitable for your area, tolerating more heat and drier conditions.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 8:02PM
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gracias, guys! i suspected that this transplant attempt was a failure, but now i can toss it with more assurance. its a bummer but maybe a white poplar will work.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's often tough for even experienced collectors of wild trees to uproot deciduous trees in leaf with any consistent success.

If you collect a deciduous tree in leaf from the wild, you'll need to entirely eliminate or dramatically reduce the foliage volume ...... and keep the tree out of sun and wind until it recovers. Some sort of tent structure to keep the humidity level high in the air surrounding the tree is a good idea as well.

I'm not being cynical, but I wouldn't be too surprised if you found your spruce following the aspen; they just remain green much longer than deciduous trees under the same conditions and in the same situation.

.... wish luck on you though. ;-)


    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Thanks for the response, Al.

Sounds like the process of successfully collecting trees from the wild is a lot like taking a woody cutting, i.e. removing foliage, keeping in shade, and maintaining humidity, etc. Good to know for any future experiments.

I'm hoping the spruces will make it, but I realize it's a long shot. All of them are in your 5-1-1 mix and looking healthy and green except one that has already started to drop needles from the top.

We'll see what happens, I guess...


    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 9:51PM
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