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Trees-American Sweetgum

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by helmut on June 06, 2006 05:56 AM
We bought two American Sweet-gum trees. We live in Pollock Pines, just at the border of Zone 7 in California. The earth is red, between clayish and loamy. The trees we bought (at the Home Depot) were already 12 feet tall in pots. I dug a nice wide pot- deep hole, amended the soil with 1/3 steer-manure, Ammonium Sulfate (for Nitrogen, and an extra 15-15-15 mix high on Phosphorus and Potash). I added some "soil-buster", to help making the dirt more porous. I do this type of amendment on all my new plants and they are all doing well.
The roots were extremely root-bound in those pots, so much that the bottom section was sealed in like coated with a layer of varnish. According to what I read, I made a few vertical slices in the root-ball with a utility knife and tried to get some roots to spread outward. After planting I covered the top with redwood mulch, watered thoroughly every day, but everyday the tree leaves went more limp, so I stopped watering for a day, no improvement. I worry that those trees will die.

Any ideas??

I don't know much about those trees, and planting such large trees in general. We have all kind of other trees planted successfully.

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by peppereater on June 06, 2006 02:23 PM
Trees that large are harder to transplant successfully sometimes. I would not only have slashed the roots, but cut them away where they were a solid mass. I think what has happened is they've had too much water...also, it's not recomended to add quick release fertilizer to new plantings, but those symptoms aren't from that. I'd see haw wet the soil is 8 or 10 inches down. If it's fairly wet, as an emergency measure, one thing (drastic) you could do is get the tree out of the hole, back into it's pot, and refill gaps with peat or potting soil, then water in (the pot will drain) and wait for the trees to recover, then replant. You may need to do more to get the planting hole draining.

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Even my growlights are getting restless!
by helmut on June 06, 2006 05:18 PM
Thanks for the advice! What I did now is this in the meantime (that's before I got a response). I did test the soil 10 inches down, it was very soggy. I took the tree out, hosed off the roots really well, and stuck it to the middle of the root ball in clean water, and left it for over night. Tomorrow I will do what you recommended, pad it in peat moss, and water it till it recovers.
I am going to dig a drain channel and fill it with 3/4 " gravel, to drain out the bottom of the hole. The second Sweet gum tree is not doing so badly but not well either. I will do the same with it.

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