Orchid Tree

immobilus(9a)January 27, 2013

Hi Guys:

In or around August, I planted a young orchid tree about six feet tall. It went through a letter heat stress during the August-September heat, but flourished once the weather cooled down. About two weeks ago, in Tucson, it got to about 24 degrees for three nights in a row, mid-50's during the day, and then warmed back up. I did not cover the tree like I probably should have. The young tree has lost all its leaves. As you can see, the stem is fine but the branches have turned a red-ish color. I know localized discoloration of hard wood tends to mean localized death. I called the nursery, and he said since the tree doesn't have leaves it cannot feed itself. He told me to mix cane sugar with warm water and soak it deep into the roots. I just did that. He told me to begin fertilizing in about a month. He said even if the branches did die, it will grow new ones, possibly on a split trunk, and become a fuller plant.

Based on the picture, where you can see the red discoloration, does anyone have any suggestions? How/when should I prune the dead branches. Do the branches appear dead to you? (I scratched the trunk with my nails and its green, the branches are brittle though.)

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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Our Hong Kong orchid tree froze the first year we planted it too. The dominant leader was killed back, changing the form of the tree. Now it's more like a large, multi-stemmed shrub but with training it should still look nice.

Hold off on pruning until after all chance of frost has passed for your area. I personally would just wait until after new growth tells you what parts are alive and what parts are dead.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 7:46AM
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azbolt

I was going to reply, but I noticed that I would have been saying word for word what haname above said!

So it should come back, but it will never look quite the same....

Kevin

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 3:22PM
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immobilus(9a)

Well, I nicked the trunk with a knife and it is green beneath the bark. Even some of the branches, though thin, seem to be slightly green inside. After mornings with freeze I've been watering it with a watering can with hot water so the roots warm off quickly.

When should the orchid tree begin leading out again? It's the first I've ever planted. I know crape myrtles are late to leaf out generally but started doing so in early March last year because of our warmer climate.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:17PM
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