Smoke tree with wet feet

don92May 8, 2012

I am in the mts. of NC and have a 3 year old smoke tree that needs help. During dry weather it does quite well but when we have an extended wet period it takes a beating. Leaves wilt and turn brown. I hate to see the poor thing not live up to its potential.

I would guess it likes dry feet. My question is; short of digging it up and amending a large area of soil ( I have a sandy clay)is there any other remedy? Perhaps digging around it and adding sand?

I don't think it will die but it sure won't have a good life.

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Hey Don :) A poorly sited tree will not flourish as you wish it to as long as it is in the same spot unless you could dig a drainage ditch away from the tree. You probably want to try to move it this fall after it goes dormant. I am not sure how smoketrees take to transplanting.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:14PM
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Thanks for responding John.
The tree is an a very generic spot. Top of a small knoll, so drainage is not a problem. Moving location wouldn't help. I could dig it up, amend the soil and replant but thats sounds rather precarious. Might be what have have to do though.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Well if you have it in a spot with good drainage, I dont think moving it would help much at all

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:33PM
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I have tried and failed to grow this tree (whip sized, sourced from Arbor Day) twice in our red clay soil. Even though we are on a small knoll with acceptable drianage, mine thrive a while, then get wet feet, then die (I assume from root rot).

I hope your site turns out to be within the adaptable range of the tree, for they are awesome.

I've given up on planting them. :-(

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:57AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hog.. i would relate your failure to the quality of stock usually sent from arbor day ...

OP.. see link about planting in clay.. you should plant high ... to allow a new plant.. time to put its roots where it can cope with whatever is thrown at it ... and that link should discuss why we USUALLY do not amend a planting hole ....

this is a nearly indestructible plant ... and i dont understand why a little temporary water would make a difference ... something is missing from the facts presented ...

have you ever done a perk test in this area ... how fast will water drain in the wet season??? .. and when is the wet season.. and how does that relate to cold/frost/freeze issues???? [could it be a cold issue instead of a wet issue??]... mine leafs out so late in MI.. that frost/freeze is not an issue.. but if yours is out early.. etc ...

and what zone are you.. i dont think NC is z10????


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Ken, I am in zone 7. The tree was good sized when I bought it, perhaps 2 1/2'. When planted I watered Thoroughly every few days and I would get the wilted and brown leaves. I figured then that it liked it dry so I cut back.
Everything leaved out early this year but late April seems to be about right for this tree.
We have now had over a week of very wet weather and leaves are brown and it looks unhappy. This summer it will be fine.
Our soil is sandy clay and perks well.
It should not suffer so much and I believe it should grow faster. After 3 years it is only 3' high.
The only thing I can think of would be to dig it up this fall, amend the soil with sand and organic and replant.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 3:55PM
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