Have I lost my Grafted Birch???

RedwoodJustinAugust 19, 2014


Lovely resource you have here. After exhausting my own research on this topic I have decided to create a thread.

I inherited a grafted birch that I do love very much, however I think I may be losing her. I will give you a timeline of its decline and share some images so that you may help me diagnose and treat if possible. I researched borers and canker disease but I am just not seeing it with the eyes of an amateur.

I am in South Central Pennsylvania.

*After the 'Polar Vortex' I had a lot of things die back (nandina, crepe myrtles etc.), but they all came back. When the grafted birch leafed out, it only did so on about half the tree. I am not sure if we had an early season freeze that may have impacted a full-leafout, but that could have occurred. The branches closer to the trunk seemed to have fared better than the ends of the limbs.

*The half of the tree that came back leafed out nicely, but we had a sneaky drought the past few months and the remaining leaves yellowed and died. I did add extra water at this time, but not enough and the tree sits on a hill side where water rolls off.

So what do you think? Is it possible it got stressed and went dormant early, and will come back next year? Do you see evidence of infestation or disease? Any thoughts are welcome and I thank you in advance for any and all posts!

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Additional image.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Additional image.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Last image - can take more if it would help anyone to diagnose.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:54AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

what is it plugged into ...

whether it went dormant early.. or died.. you really wont know until spring ...

i would get rid of the landscape fabric ...

and find out where the root flare is ...

and while you are at it... find out if its wet or dry down 6 or 8 inches ... and then water appropriately ...

my z5 MI ... had a z4 winter... no birch damage at all ...

what do you mean by inherited???? .. was it recently moved??? ...

if you mean the property... what are you putting on the lawn.. that might not have been put on previously ???? ... did you build the rock ring.. and add teh fabric.. and a near mulch volcano????

we need more facts.. i think we are set on pix ....


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:54PM
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Thank you for the reply, Ken. I will try to answer your questions succinctly below.

* The power wire goes from the house to a receptacle that is visible at the base of the tree. It was there when I moved in three years ago.

*There is no landscape fabric, that is a small piece of screen that was around only the trunk of the tree when I moved in. I figured it served purpose so I left it.

*By 'inherited' I mean the tree was on the property, I did not plant it. I have not moved the tree, it's roots extend very far to the base of the hill.

* I have a lawn service that has been treating the lawn for three years, but I am not aware of their chemical use/makeup etc.

*I placed the rocks around the base of the tree to protect it from my string trimmer. There is no fabric.

*I did place the mulch, in June this year, which measures 2 inches deep and about 20 inches across, to try to keep moisture around the tree. I realize this may have been a mistake so I removed the mulch today and found the soil below the mulch to be slightly damp. I looked up 'mulch volcano' and while I do not feel I am approaching that degree, I certainly concede that I may have improperly mulched the tree. I am an amateur as I mentioned in my OP.

Thanks for the reply.

*Edited for type-o and clarity.

This post was edited by RedwoodJustin on Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 13:13

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:09PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)


Where in PA are you that is in drought right now? I'm 40 miles from the PA line and we're 12" above normal in rainfall for the year right now. Plus, your lawn looks nice and green, so I don't think it's a moisture issue.

A birch is unlikely to winterkill in even the worst winter a zone 6 could throw at it. I don't think that's the issue. I'm guessing one of several things that attack birches, which are sickly, short-lived trees in the best of circumstances.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:36PM
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I'm in York. In end of June/early July we had storms roll through but every one seemed to miss us. Grass started dying (had to get out sprinklers). The rain we would get would be minimal. A few of my redwoods and a river birch are showing signs leaf yellowing/browning but symptoms have since dissipated.

Rain has caught up, so the lawn has recovered. I guess I am trying to figure out if there is evidence of borers or canker disease. I'm not seeing it but I'm not too sure what I'm looking for.

I would imagine that the tree was planted in 2002 or thereabouts - and no idea how old it was at that time. It may just be getting near its life cycle. It stinks if I lose it, it has such a cool form IMO.

Thanks for the reply.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:56PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

OK, that makes sense. York isn't that far. We had a bit of dryness in late July, and the same thing happened, but on tree scales, there has been no dryness this year except for extremely sensitive and/or newly established plants. Even at our driest point this summer, my soil had moisture just a few inches down.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:06PM
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I just looked at the tree again and have found evidence of borers....small d shaped holes. Anybody have success treating?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:00PM
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