Desert fern

clysta(8)June 16, 2010

My development has put desert ferns in front of each house as a street tree. My tree is only half the size of others and even though it bloomed it has no seed pods. It is now turning sort of brown, as it looks after a frost. Everyone else's trees look gorgeous.

What can I do to help my tree?

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crista(Sunset 13)

Sounds like your tree isn't getting enough water. Unfortunately no one tends to go around and check the emitters to see if they're working in developments. I don't know why it didn't produce any seed pods, but the smaller size and the browning off sounds like a dry tree to me. I'd give it a deep soak -- let the hose run on it so it's barely dribbling overnight, then move it to another area, and so on until you've watered it out to the drip line all around.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 1:07AM
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Thanks for the idea! I am watering 25 minutes per day now with the heat and I did check the emitters to make sure they were working. But I was thinking of fertilizing everything and a good soak would get the fertilizer down to the roots, too.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 1:44AM
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"I am watering 25 minutes per day now"

You maybe OVER watering ... how old is this tree?

Do not fertilize a stressed plant.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 12:03PM
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The tree was planted in December, 2006, just before a heavy frost. I was one of the first houses on the street so no one else's tree has been damaged by frost like mine.
I have always watered 25 minutes during the 100 degree weather, but I could measure the water depth and how far out from the roots is damp. Maybe I should put out slower emitters.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 9:07PM
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desertrubble(z9 AZ)

I have a desert fern I planted the same year as yours and I rarely water it, but when I do it is a thorough deep watering. This is a low water use tree.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 12:33PM
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A once a week, or every two weeks deep soaking is far better for it than daily watering.

They are desert natives.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lysiloma

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 1:37PM
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There are several things to check.

1) Watering. Never water every day - except for a newly planted tree and that's only for the first week or so. Soil that is constantly wet squeezes out the oxygen and basically suffocates the roots. Your 3 1/2 year old tree only needs to have a good soaking once every week to 10 days in the summer making sure the water soaks down to 2 - 3 feet into the soil. Water only once a month in the winter.

2) Emitters. How big are your emitters and how many do you have on this tree? 25 minutes with those round adjustable emitters that put out 10 gallons per hour in little streams might be enough if you have 5 of them (that would be roughly 25 gallons). If you only have 1 or 2 gallon per hour emitters you are only applying 2 1/2 - 5 gallons IF you have 5 emitters - not nearly enough.

Solution: Change the run time or add or change the emitter size. If you can't make these changes now, grab your hose and let it trickly slowly overnight on your tree. Don't water during the day with a hose because the water gets too hot.

A Lysiloma (Desert Fern) with a 6 foot diameter canopy needs about 18 gallons of water once every 10 days in summer. A tree with a 10 foot canopy needs about 50 gallons.

3) Your tree could be planted too deeply. Gently remove some of the soil at the base of the trunk. If you have to dig more than 1-2 inches until you see or feel roots, your tree was planted too deeply. The region of trunk tissue near where the roots emerge should only be covered with an inch or so of soil or the tree will suffocate. If this is the case, remove about a 12 inch zone around the trunk so the roots are only covered with 1-2 inches of soil.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 12:11PM
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Thank you all for your advice! I noticed that my sissou trees also have some yellow leaves on them. I added some plants this year and they probaly get plenty of water from those plants so I plugged the emitters on those two trees and the Desert Fern. The fern is in between two red Yucca plants and will probably get plenty of water from them. I have turned down the time that I run the system and will do it again tomorrow to let things dry out without causing a shock to their systems. I just have to keep an eye on the bushes and groundcover to make sure they are getting enough.
I will let you know how it goes.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 12:46AM
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