Buckeye seedlings turned brown and died, why?

nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)July 10, 2014

I collected several dozen buckeyes last fall, and stored them in a bag of soil in an unheated garage over the winter. Come spring, they were happily sending out nice long roots.

I decided to use them for an experiment. At my job, we have heavy cardboard tubes left over at the end of the day, approximately 5" in diameter, 1/2" thick walls and 16" long. I sunk these into the ground 4-5", filled with compost, and planted the seeds into these to see how they would perform as free tree pots for tap-rooting trees.

The tubes look like the link below.

At first, the seedlings grew very well. Starting in mid-June, however, the leave edges started to turn brown and die. Eventually all the leaves turned brown/yellow and the plants died.

Upon "dissection", the seedlings' roots looked large and healthy, and the soil was a little on the dry side. We've been having a record year here in Minnesota for rain, so I never bothered to water them.

So, either a blight of some sort attacked all of them, a chemical in the tubes killed them, or the cardboard wicked away enough moisture to kill them. I'm not upset, as I have nowhere I wish to plant a buckeye anyway, but I DO want a plausible answer before I start trying to grow species I really do care about.

Anyone want to help me play CSI: Buckeye with me here and chime in?

Here is a link that might be useful:

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

What state was the cardboard in when you dug them up? It looks incredibly thick. My guess is that water just wouldn't penetrate it and the roots couldn't get through it either.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:52AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I think if you would've grown them facing eastern exposure, or dappled light or even an hour to two hours of sun-only, they'd have done ok.

I grew a batch of buckeyes in-ground with full western and nearly full southern exposure and right around this time of the year the leaves would turn at minimum half-black from sun scorch. Their neighbors, oak seedlings and species with thicker leaves didn't burn, however other oak seedlings with less thick leaves also burned.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 8:34AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the cardboard wicked away enough moisture to kill them.

==>> some variation of that is my vote ..

had you simply stuck them in the ground... and i hope you did with some... i presume you would have had no problem ...

as an experiment ... you created a non-normal growing culture and failed ... two thumbs up for the experiment ...

just guessing.. you completely interfered with water management ... exactly how.. who knows ...

and part of the problem is the whole tap root mythology .... IMHO ... its simply not requisite ... its just another root ...

thx for the experiment ...

BTW .. we get newsprint end rolls for the kids ... and the tubes are the same ... with the laminate glue in it.. i could beat a yugo to a pulp with the roll ... i cant see how any moisture permeated it ... in one season ... they are probably as hard as a 2 x 4 .... unless yours are different ...

where the leaves sticking out the top???


    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:01AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

They dried out. You didn't water them, plus wicking. Rain was not enough, and you have no trays to collect and store any rainwater. I grow a lot of plants in plastic pots here near wet Seattle. They will dry out in the rain. Slower than if it's not raining, but they will dry out....and they don't wick and most of them have trays. Any plant in a pot needs constant monitoring.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:58AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

Thanks for the constructive criticism, everyone :-)

The seedlings were planted a couple inches deep into the pots, with compost over them to the top of the tube. That might have made things worse, since there wasn't even that little rain catchment basin present.

Once I dug the tubes up, the ends in the ground were SLIGHTLY moist and soggy, just starting to come apart after several months in the ground. So yeah, they're VERY sturdy. I tried cutting a few up once, and anything short of a 12" miter saw is a joke against them.

Even without the possibility of a taproot, I do like the idea of having free pots that I could easily move rather than dig up. I think I'll give it another shot with some oak and walnut seedlings next spring, but this time water them often.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:01PM
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