Willow Acacia Needs Help

MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZOctober 4, 2012

I got this tree as part of the SRP Shade Tree program two weeks ago and it appears as though the branches are dying one-by-one from the bottom up. I know it's supposed to be an evergreen so it's not losing leaves as part of the season change. Any ideas? Thanks.

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lazy_gardens

How are you watering it, and how did you plant it?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:24PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Is that a west wall? How close is it to the house? (Appears to be pretty close, so the question.) If it is a western exposure, that's some brutal heat it's been exposed to. Poor baby, I hope it perks up. Would it be helpful (anyone chime in here) to drape it with frostcloth or other light shade?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:59PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

lazy, it's not planted yet. It's still in the nursery pot. I've been watering with the hose but today I wet the soil and placed the nursery pot in a reservoir of weak liquid fertilzer solution. For the two weeks its been here, it's been sitting on the patio, under the carob tree. Although the first day I placed it where I'm planning to plant it but when I saw the dying branches start I moved it under some shade. But more and more branches are croaking.

tf, I placed it there because it was a background I thought the picture would get details of the branches. As noted, it's been under a shade tree.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:29PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Do they have a replacement policy if the trees fail? I think I'd call and tell them you have a bum tree.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:24PM
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lazy_gardens

My professional guess is that it started out as underwatering because it was in a pot in the sun. I dunk pots in a tub of water until the bubbles stop rising, then let them drain, and check moisture with a meter.

Your best bet of getting it back in shape is to plant it in a proper hole, and water it correctly, checking with a meter.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:42PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

That's a good point about dunking the pot in water till bubbles stop coming up. I've learned (the hard way) that sometimes when I water from the top, the water runs around the dry soil and out the bottom.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Juttah

The under-watering hypothesis is a good one, but both of our Willow Acacias (also purchased through the local "Trees for Shade" program) would always wilt from the top-down when underwatered; they never lost lower leaves, let alone entire branches.

The top of your tree looks quite turgid. I wonder if it was doomed even before it was delivered, like maybe it sat in the sun too long before being loaded on the delivery truck or had a pre-existing condition at the nursery.

Like tomatofreak suggested, I'd call them up and request a replacement. This doesn't look like "user error" to me.

Now, may I make a suggestion? Don't get a Willow Acacia. Like all fast-growing trees, they are highly prone to wind damage and blowdown. One of ours was irreversibly damaged from 2 strong gusts of wind; the other froze to death (not likely to happen in your area, but still.)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:57PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Thanks for the replies. lazygardens, I'll try to get it planted this weekend but doing further research on the VPA site (who is administering the program), someone stated both of his acacia died immediately after transplanting. So I've not much hope for this one. No response as yet to my messages to the shade tree program manager. Since it's a free tree, I don't expect them to swap it out.

juttah, the spot I have selected for this tree is sheltered from wind by the neighbor's house and also a block wall. Slow, steady drip watering that encourages the roots to grow DOWN rather than out is the best way to water newly planted trees. This helps prevent the 'blow down' problem later.

I chose the willow acacia because of the shape of the crown when mature. It will be planted to block the afternoon sun and the spot chosen will not support a large, umbrella shaped canopy.

Thanks again to all for the feedback, it's good info.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:06AM
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Juttah

The Willow Acacia IS a wonderful tree with proper watering and if sheltered from the wind and freezes.

We were sad to lose ours; both were beautiful. There aren't many fast-growing shade trees that fit into narrow spaces and can take our brutal heat.

I hope they give you a replacement!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 4:26PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Thanks Juttah. The hole is dug, we'll plant this evening and give our best go.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 6:20PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

We've planted the tree and it appears to be happy about that. I removed all the dead branches and no more branches have died. As lazygardens noted above, it may simply have needed to get out of that nursery pot.

I want to update the group on the news flash that someone from the shade tree program contacted me yesterday. She was very concerned and asked lots of questions. I showed her the picture now that it's planted and she agreed it looks like it's doing okay. She emphasized the need to get these trees planted as soon as possible. Trees are not meant to grow in black nursery pots. She also told me tree replacement is always a possibility but depends on individual situations. For example, if a person leaves the tree in the container all winter, fails to water it, etc, no tree replacement. They want this program to succeed but, as in all of life, there is a certain amount of personal responsibility involved.

Picture's not that great so fwiw I'll attach it.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:16AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

If it's any consolation, the trees my daughter got from SRP are about 3' tall - maybe - and about as big around as your little finger. ;o) However, they do appear to be healthy. She got 'em planted pronto.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Eh, yeah - instead of planting mine I'm on GardenWeb....

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:25PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Well, get your buns outside and start diggin'!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:33PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Yes tf, the trees are small but all three of mine are now planted and I'm slow dripping some water. Everyone, especially the willow acacia are looking happy and healthy. Grow babies, grow!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:35PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Done!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:30PM
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