Tree-mail is both virtual and real. This is my Dawyck Purple Beech arriving on May 6, 2006.


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Julie's Tree-Mail

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It's a great geography lesson for my children (and me).

July 2006 Letters

Sun, July 30, 2006: Leslie, in Frisco, TX, writes: Hi Julie, Just found your blog while doing a search for Purple Leaf Plum pests. We are in the Dallas area and have two new PLPs, planted last fall. I noticed some little dime-sized bugs while watering last night, they blended in with the bark so well I wouldn't have seen them had they not moved. I haven't been able to find anything online and my usual source of info, my parents, don't have a clue. Any chance you might? Thanks for any help - Leslie

Hi Leslie, At first I was thinking scales, but you don't often see them moving. The males do have a crawly stage, so it's possible they're scales. They could be plum borers though. Can you get a picture of the little critters for me? Google the plum borers and see if maybe that's it. Good luck. —Julie

Thur, July 27, 2006: Penny, in Baltimore, writes: Hello Julie, I enjoyed your site but could not find some specific information that I wanted about my Redbud. My 1st and only Redbud was given to me by a friend in Raleigh Durham and it came from a forested area. It may have been 5” h when I brought it to Baltimore, 4or 5 years ago. Since then it died back to the ground and then resurrected itself and is now about 4 ft h with about a 4ft spread. It has not bloomed and I am wondering if you might know why. It is mostly shaded and gets some morning and several good hours of afternoon sun. It is planted in an under-story area, below a maple and some pines. Does this tree need to be several years older before it blooms? The tree trunk is about 1- 1 ˝ “. Thank you for your attention. Sincerely, Penny

Hi Penny, I think your tree is just too young to bloom yet. Give it a few more years before you start to worry! (My sugar maple was in the ground 7 years before blooming.) Good luck! Keep watering. Redbuds like to grow near rivers and streams, so make sure it's getting good moisture because that maple may just well be stealing it all! —Julie

Wed, July 26, 2006: Patricia, in Wichita, Kansas, writes: I am visiting my sister to give her a break with my elderly parents that require 24/7 care in Wichita, Kansas. My Question: She has an older Dogwood tree planted shading her deck, which was redone with a composit decking material this past spring. This decking gets VERY hot in the afternoon sun, emaniating lots of heat. The deck is about 4 feet from the base of the tree. The tree looks unhealth. The older leaves a small in nature and seem to curl inward. When I looked on the underneath side, the veins of the leaf seem to be drawing something up, making them reddish in color. The new leaves don't have this characteristic. From my research, it almost appears to be leaf antan .(sp) or a rust factor or maybe even a fungi being sucked up. She also about 1.5 years ago put a solid looking rubber matting around the trunk to prevent damage on weedeating. It doesn't look like it's water permeable. I've always heard that nothing should inhibit sun or water for at least 18" around your tree trunk. I'm thinking that might be causing some of the problem. The tree is about 10 to 15 years old.

Do you have any suggestions or someplace to solve this problem? I would hate to see her lose this tree. It brings nice shade on the deck and really is wonderful in the spring with the blooms. I don't know how much it bloomed this past spring. I forgot to ask.

Hi Patricia. First, I admire you for taking care of your elderly parents. Blessings and peace to you and your family. About the tree: hmm, most definitely, I would guess the hot deck is a problem, as is that plastic "mulch." I would put down a nice organic mulch asap. (See my dogwood pages for the newspaper trick.) But the bigger problem might be the deck itself. New construction on the root zone of that tree may be the long-standing problem here. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about that now, other than trying your best to keep the tree healthy. Doesn't sound like you live nearby though, so this may be difficult. My best advice is that you check on the tree every time you visit. Check the moisture level. Do a slow soak if it's needed while you're there. Do a soil test to see if the soil is slightly acidic. You might ammend the soild with some bone meal in spring and fall. I don't know if any of this will help, but it's certainly worth a try! Good luck —Julie

Sat, July 22, 2006: Denise, in Severna Park, MD, writes: Thanks for the informative posting. Not sure what the problem is with our plum tree; has had less and less flowering each year and generally looks unhealthy. Have never noticed actual plums growing on it as in your photos. No sign of aphids as in your pictures either. Considering some fertilizer spikes (we also do pruning). Any suggestions? Thanks!

Hmm, that's a tough one. My first question is: was the tree planted too deeply? Second question: is it planted in full sun (plums grow best in full sun). Third: how's the moisture situation? Fourth: what's the soil like? Can you attach a picture? —Julie

Sat, July 22, 2006: Laura, in Ruffin, NC, writes: I'm a resident of Ruffin, NC and I bought 2 Purple Leaf Plum trees. They were over 7 feet tall when I planted them. They had beautiful leaves. This year the leaves came out on time but they didn't get as big as they were when I planted them and the leaves are being eaten by something. The leaves on the lower 3/4 of the trees look like spider webs. Can you tell me what I should do. Should I pull them up or can they be treated?

Sounds like aphids to me. Try an organic soap wash and pepper spray. To make the soap, mix a tablespoon of mild liquid dish detergent in a quart of water and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Spray on the tree, getting the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper on while the leaves are still wet. Repeat after a rain. My tree had the same problem in the first year and it came back just fine the next. Hope this helps. —Julie

Fri, July 21, 2006: Tracey, in Wendell, NC, writes: I was just wondering if you knew how to start a new tree from an existing branch from another tree?

Hi Tracey. Depends on the tree. Gregory wanted to cut a branch on our linden tree "to grow another one," but a little research on linden trees revealed that lindens don't grow from branch propagation; you have to grow them from seed. On the other hand, take a look at this to read up on the subject of certain trees that CAN be grown from stem cuttings. Hope it helps! —Julie

Mon, July 17, 2006: Jan, didn't say where from, writes: julie, i love your site..thanks. can u help me? i planted my red sunset in the spring..we've had plenty or rain, conditions have been pretty perfect, but the poor thing still looks limp and dejected. it was purchased from a local nursery and is about ten feet tall. i planted, per instructions in the burlap. any thoughts? thanks.jan

Hi Jan. Just wondering, now that it's been a few weeks since you wrote me (sorry, I was on vacation), how's the tree doing now? I might venture a guess that it's not getting enough water, or that it's planted too deep. It could also just be transplant stress. My red sunset looked pretty scraggly the first two years. —Julie

Sun, July 16, 2006: Susan, in Columbia, SC, writes a followup to her letter last month about her weeping cherry: Jules- Thanks. We pruned the weeping cherry about two weeks ago...just couldn't wait!! It looks much better. But the durn branches grow about 2 feet every time it rains! Crazy thing. Love, Susan

Hey Susan, I have a tree just like that — the plum. Darn thing grows like a weed! —Julie

Sat, July 15, 2006: Dan, in Aurora, Colorado, writes: I just found your site while trying to find information on what could be wrong with my Emerald Queen. We bought it a couple of months ago from a nursery in Parker, CO. The tree came from out of our state to that nursery. I planted it near a drainage line in our grass to provide shade on the grass and our house. The tree started to have little holes in the leaves, but this isn't the problem. The leaves on the top started to look wilty. So I watered it more. Then more leaves nearer the middle of the tree looked wilty too. I dug into the soil and the ground was very moist. I stopped watering the tree for almost a week now and the leaves at the bottom of the tree are wilty and some leaves are crunchy and crumble. The soil even after a week is moist just 3 inches down and stays that way for as far as my shovel will reach. I can't figure out if there is not enough water, too much water, shock or what. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Dan

Hi Dan. Well, it sounds to me like the tree is getting water logged from too much moisture. Sounds like a risky thing to plant trees near the drainage field. Maybe there's something in here that can help: Planting on Your Septic Drain Field. Good luck. --Julie

Sat, July 15, 2006: Mitsuko, didn't say where from, writes: Just wanted to let you know I was highly entertained by your blog. For years I thought the purple tree in my garden was a copper beech but as your site revealed it is actually a purple leaf plum . A basic mistake I know, but I'm only just now educating myself about my trees and how to propogate them. I hope I don't get those scale bug things! thanks again, best wishes mitsuko

I can see how it would be easy to mistake a copper beech for a purple plum. When I first started out, I couldn't tell a maple from an oak unless there were acorns on the ground! We all have to start somewhere. I'd like to add that my son could tell a sugar maple from a red when he was 3! Woo hoo! And the learning goes on! (I hope you don't get those scale bugs either. Man, those things were gross.) Happy weekend, Julie

Fri, July 14, 2006: Jodie, in West Jordan, Utah, writes: Thanks for all the wonderful information on your site. I love maple trees, but we just moved into a house with a big cottonwood tree in the backyard. My husband saw a Sunset Maple at the store and we were wondering how much room was needed between the trees. We both love trees, but we don't want to have an overcrowded yard down the road. Also how fast do Sunset Maples grow and are they usually pretty healthy? Thanks, Jodie West Jordan Utah

Hi Jodie, Well, it depends on what kind of cottonwood you have. I think the garden variety can grow to 100 feet tall with a spread of the same. That's pretty big! Of course, there are cultivars that don't get nearly that big. The Red Sunset red maple can grow to 50 feet tall in the right conditions (full sun, lots of room, plenty of deep water), and to 40 feet wide or so. I don't know how big your yard is. But I would think you'd need to plant ANY tree at least 30 feet away from a Red Sunset red maple, and even then, whatever was nearby might end up growing into the maple tree, making a nice shade canopy. Hope this helps. Good luck with your new house! -- Julie

Thur, July 13, 2006: Susie, didn't say where from, writes: I am having problems with my plum tree. I have not been able to find out what it is. There are some limbs that have no leaves at the top and some on one side. Do I need to fertilize? If so what do you use? I love these trees but mine is not pretty anymore. Hope you can help me. Susie

Dear Susie, Wish I could help, but I don't think I have enough information. How long has the tree been in its current spot? Has anything changed recently? How's the weather been where you live? Hot and dry? Or continually cool and wet? Seen any bugs about? Look on the undersides of the leaves. Look for webs, crawling ants, wasps, tiny little bugs, anything? I wouldn't fertilize until I had a better understanding of what was wrong. Perhaps you could cut a little bit off the tree, and take that part, along with one of the dead parts, up to your local extension service or local nursery to ask then what might be the problem. Also, pictures help. If you have a digital camera, send me some pics! Hope this helps, even just a little bit. --Julie

Thur, July 13, 2006: Courtney, in Central Ohio, writes a followup to yesterday's letter about her new dogwood: Thanks for your input and quick response! The nursery had two dogwoods to choose from. I think I am going to go back and look at the other's leaves and see if there are the same types of markings on the leaves... We have a one-year guaruntee if, and only if, the tree dies. From what I have read the tree won't necessarily die from anthracnose, so it's highly unlikely that I will recoup any losses ... those bottom leaves are suspect, they have the faint dark spots. The tree is in partial shade, more shade than sun. I chose that spot specifically to protect the tree and to have a beautiful view from our living room window. I do think that it may be planted a little deep. It's on the top of a hill, right where the hill starts to slope so it was kind of tough to gauge the depth. I hope it doesnt suffocate the little thing. We've had a pretty mild, wet summer so far in central ohio. We planted two maples and an oak this time last year, and boy was it hot and dry! I wasn't sure they would make it but they have really taken off. If it is planted too deep, would I just scoop some of the dirt off the top and mulch? Thanks for your input, I know you just do this for fun, so I really do appreciate you sharing your knowledge. I trust the opinion of people like yourself more than those who do it for a profit. Well I am going to go check on the tree and see if anything looks different. Take care! Courtney

Well, it might not be anthracnose. You could try sending those pictures to your local extension office to see what they think the problem is. Remember that I'm no tree expert! (You should SEE the certification tests arborists have to take.)

But, anthracnose is such a common problem these days. The odds are good that nurseries are selling some diseased trees. Most people have never heard of anthracnose, until their tree starts looking scraggly and they do some research about it.

To fix the planted-too-deep problem, you'll need to get the tree higher. I mean, you can try the method you said, but it won't work unless you change the grade in a very wide circle. (I tried your method with my sugar maple, and the problem is, the dirt just fills back into the hole when it rains and when the squirrels walk around and when the wind blows. Nature finds a way, right? So I would go out all the time, removing the dirt from the bottom of my sugar maple. It seems to be doing fine, but I know in my heart that someday it's going to be a problem.)

You, on the other hand, have the chance to fix it. Don't know how big the tree is, but if you can pull it out of the hole (gently, of course), and get it so that it's at the proper depth, you'll have a better chance of a healthy tree in the long run.

Hope this helps!


Wed, July 12, 2006: Courtney, in Central Ohio, writes: Good morning Julie. I have frequented your blog for over a year now. It is exciting to see the updates and changes. I am a (relatively) new homeowner, my husband and I purchased our home on 2.2 acres in central ohio about a year ago. I have become quite the landscaper, and I absolutely love to plant trees. They are my weakness :) I have always loved dogwoods. Well we purchased one, along with a eastern redbud and an october glory, this past weekend from a nursery down the road. With the help of my mother I planted the dogwood yesterday. The soil seems to be great, low amount of clay and very soft, fine reddish soil. I amended the soil with some posy power, planted it, and slow soaked the little tree. As we were standing there, my mom started looking at the leaves. She looked concerned, so I asked what was wrong. She pointed to a few of the branches, which appeared to be light brown around the edges. I instantly thought of your blog, and your battle with anthracnose ... I am utterly anxious now, with the thought that this little tree might be diseased. I took some pics, it is just now starting to rain so I hope that the pics came out ok. I want to attach this photo and see what your thoughts are...there are no black spots as of yet, but I am leary... Please let me know if you have seen this type of marking on the leaves of your dogwood at any stage in the disease.
Thanks so much for you informative page and beautiful pictures. They are always a delight.

Hey, Cool! So nice to hear from someone who's been stopping by the old virtual tree nursery! I'm not certain, but I'm thinking your tree is just stressed out from transplant. Is it planted in full sun? Dogwoods suffer a fair amount of transplant stress, and it's worse when they're planted in full sun. I can see the hose in the picture. Looks like you're doing the slow soak method for watering, good for you, but I wonder if the tree is planted too deep. It's hard to tell in the picture angle, but I would check it out to be sure. Did your nursery offer a guarantee? Hold on to your receipt. Kind of a bad time to plant right now, which will only add to your tree's stress.

I think your tree has leaf scorch (too hot, too much stress, too much sun), and POSSIBLY very early signs of anthracnose. Some leaves in that bottom picture have what seem to be faint brown spots. I would watch those to see if they get darker. If the edges of the spots turn dark or purple, that would be a pretty good sign of anthracnose and I would see about getting my money back Hope this helps. And thanks again for stopping by! --Julie.

Mon, July 10, 2006: Rick, didn't say where from, writes: Subject: plums from purple plum tree... are you able to eat the plums from this tree? we know a lady that is doing just that. can they be eaten? we don't want her to get sick....please let us know she says they are really sweet

Hi Rick, Yes, the plums are edible, but I don't particularly care for them. The ones on my tree aren't very sweet to my tastebuds. Then again, we're talking about a crazy tree lady here with a serious affinity for Hershey's chocolate. You are sweet to be concerned about your neighbor. --Julie

Sun, July 9, 2006: Kitty, in St. Louis, writes: Hi Julie, I just found your website while searching on the internet for some help. I live in St. Louis Missouri. I have a 16 year old sunset maple which 2 years ago went through construction trauma when we had a new deck built in our backyard. Last year we didn't notice anything unusual with the tree. But this year it had alot of problems. First we notice that there was less leaf development in the canopy of the tree. Two weekends ago I went away for 3 days when I returned the leaves had started to change as if the tree was going through an autumn season. Then 4 days later all the leaves turned brown. Non of the leaves have dropped but will crumble if you rub them between your hands. Upon closer inspection I believe the tree acquired borers, since it was under stress. I have started treating it for borers this weekend. My real question is this....Do I need to remove the tree or because I am treating it will it possibly come back next season? If I remove it, how safe is it to replant another tree in the vicinity of this tree? I am sick over this because it was such a beautiful tree and complimented our landscaping so well. Now I will have to begin anew with another tree if I have to remove this tree. Should I contact an arborist? Thank you for your assisitance. Kitty

Sounds like it might be verticillium wilt, but I am NOT a certified arborist, and I haven't seen your tree. Maybe you should get a profession opinion, but if it is the wilt disease, you will probably need to remove the tree and if you plant something near the old planting hole, it should be a tree that is resistant to this disease. Here's a page that might help. Hope this helps. Sorry about your tree, but I hope you resolve the problem quickly, and that if you have to plant a new tree, that it's one you will love and nurture. -- Julie

Sat, July 8, 2006: Nancy, in Freemont, Nebraska, writes: Subject: judas tree... I planted mine 2004 and it is cute . I am in zone 5.fremont,NE 30 miles from Omaha. What is the scoop on pruning these pansies ? I would appreciate your time no hurry thanks, Nancy

Interesting question! Take a look at the letter I just wrote to Michelle in Delaware, below! Actually, I was just up at the St. Francis trees, noticing how great they look. When they were first pruned, it seemed so harsh, like a crew cut looks on a kid with long hair, but the trees have grown SO nicely! I'll do a blog post sometime about how they've been pruning those. I'll probably have to wait until I can get my camera inside the trees though. Now they are so dense it's hard to get a decent picture. In short, pruning redbuds for shape and structure seems to be a good idea. In the first year after planting, though, I would only prune out dead wood and touching or crossing branches. Hope this helps. --Julie

Fri, July 7, 2006: Michelle, in Delaware, writes: Hello Julie, I have a question about my Eastern Redbud tree. Its almost two years since the tree was planted on my property (Oct/2004). the first winter was fine after the second winter, I noticed the middle branches are not showing any leaves. It has gone through budding in the Spring and now it displays green leaves after the Spring pick blooms but the middle branches look dead.

A neighbor said it is not dead and to leave it alone. Should I prune the dead branches or just wait until next Spring and see what happens. Michelle

Hi Michelle, Thanks for visiting my site and taking the time to write. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I would prune any dead wood as soon as I notice it. And it's hard to say without seeing the tree or a picture, but I think it's normal for trees to thin naturally from the inside, that part being the part that gets less light. You might consider shape and structure pruning. I've been watching the redbuds down at St. Francis, three trees which are heavily pruned each year, and comparing those to the redbud in Heidi's yard, (she has since moved away) and the ones that get pruned regularly seem SO much more healthy and vibrant than the other one. Could be that the St. Francis ones are watered and fertilized too, but I don't know that. Hope this helps some. --Julie

Wed, July 5, 2006: Laura, in Connecticut, writes: Hi Julie! I love your site and all the pretty photos! I have a question~ 5 years ago, I purchased 1ft high arborvitaes for $1.00 each at Walmart. Such a deal! I planted them in the shade because I wanted to eventually have a privacy screen in that spot. The trees are green and have grown a little, but they are not thriving. Ok, so now I want to move them into a sunnier area th help them. Since only 1/2 of each tree was in the sun, there is basically only 1/2 a tree! Will the sun deprived side ever fill in? The trees are only 2-3 ft high. Also, if evergreens are used in containers , will they survive the winter in those pots? What do people do with them in the winter? (connecticut). Thanks for any thoughts! Laura

Hi Laura, Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. And thanks for your kind words about my site! Honestly, I think you'd do better to start with new trees, planting them in the sunnier places, but there's no harm in trying to move the existing ones. They are so small, they just might recover. Wait until things start cooling off a bit though, and be sure to water deeply the first week or two after transplant. Trim off the dead wood, up to the point where the leaves are green. They won't actually grow back, but the trees are so small that it might not matter.

As far as the trees in pots, I'm not sure either! I've got container trees now, four of them to be exact, and I have no idea what I'll do when winter comes. I'm thinking of digging a hole in the ground and putting the pots down in the hole. (They are little pots.) I'll let you know if I actually decide to do that. I'm sure it will be a blog post! Sorry, I don't think I was much help. It will be a few years before I can speak with experience about growing trees in containers. Good luck! --Julie

Sat, July 1, 2006: Julie, from Ashton, Maryland, writes: What a great site. I came upon it while trying to find out if I have a major problem with my new eastern redbud. We planted it in May and it has done beautifully, but now many of the leaves are curled under and have brown along their edges. Can't find evidence of bugs and the tree has been undisturbed since it was planted. Is this a major problem? We were in a drought condition and were watering it daily. Now we have had lots of rain and are backing off the watering some. Any ideas? Thanks, Julie.

Hi Julie. It's been a few weeks since you wrote. Sorry it took me so long to write back. How's the tree doing now since you backed off the watering? I would have told you it sounded like it was getting too much. Be sure to check the soil at 6 inch depth before watering. Good luck, and thanks for your kind words about my site! --Julie (That's a lot of "Julie"s.)