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Struggling Arbor Vitae

Posted by nealius 7 (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 1, 13 at 18:17

We planted 6 arbor vitae about a month ago, and almost all of them seem to be struggling. We were very judicious about watering them daily during the first week, and have continued to water them regularly. About a week or so after planting, many of the lower branches started turning brown as you'll see in my picture. I should add that we have a clay rich soil, but we added organic material when we planted, about 1 scoop of organic to 2 scoops of clay soil. Concerned we might be over-watering, I bought a moisture meter at home depot. It was really cheap, and I don't have much faith in it, but it was the only one I could find. I checked the soil today (keep in mind it rained a fair amount last night), and the soil around the tree registered a 10 - top of the scale. If I try to get it right at the base of the tree, or I go in at an angle, the moisture level is much less, between a 2 and a 4. So what's wrong with my trees? What am I doing wrong? Am I over watering or under watering?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Struggling Arbor Vitae

review link.. to see where you may have gone wrong ...

but how about you go about 2 feet from that plant.. and dig the same hole you dug to plant in ...

fill it to the top with water...

and time how long it takes to empty ... that is called a perk test ... and will tell you a lot about the drainage of your soil ...

i can come to no conclusion about your observation on moisture.. after a heavy rain ... too bad you didnt do it prior ...

i am sure you are on the right track with watering ... but who knows which way ...

those are very large transplants... bigboxstore????

frankly ... no conifer should brown ... LIKE THAT... one month after planting ... i suspect bad stock ... or one really freakin big dog.. lol ...

more facts please..


Here is a link that might be useful: link

RE: Struggling Arbor Vitae

As I'm sure Ken's link explains, digging a planting hole in clay soil and mixing in a relatively high percentage of OM simply creates a bucket in which you hope to get your plants to grow. They won't.....or at least, not for long. What you have created is a planting hole that retains water in the organic matter and is unable to drain freely because of the clay surround. This is a recipe for oxygen deprivation and root rot.

If you need to plant in clay soils - and many of us do - you need to dig a very wide but quite shallow planting hole with sloped and roughened edges. Set in the plant with the top of the root ball several inches above grade and backfill with the soil you removed, unamended. Slope this material gently up to the top of the rootball, creating a small mound or berm. You can put whatever organic matter/mulch you like as top dressing.

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