Rising Sun Redbud Top Branches Did Not Leaf Out

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Hi, I have a rising sun redbud that I purchased two falls ago. It was about 3 ft tall. Last year, it was beautiful most of the season then got brown spots on the leaves. The nursery said it was because of the previous hard winter (northeast, zone 5). This spring, it started budding, but I was lax in my duties and I am sure I didn't start watering it soon enough. So the in the top branches it either didn't produce leaves or the buds withered.

So now, my question is should I prune those branches off (I am new to gardening and scared of pruning incorrectly) or leave them to see if there is any life in them for the rest of the season or next year?

Thanks for any help!


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Answer #2 · Sharon Robinson's Answer · So anyway, I checked the leafless limbs. Most appear dead, some are green under the bark. I also found a worm munching on some (now wilted ) leaves. Poor tree, I don't think it's too happy right now. Plus, I believe that most of the dead limbs are the ones I tried to prune last year! Not much encouragement to try again! - Sharon)


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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Sharon-If the tissue under the bark was brown and the limbs are brittle or break easily when bent then they are most likely dead and can be cut off. I'm not sure what you mean by these limbs are the ones you tried to prune last year. Did you prune these limbs last year and if so was there a reason you wanted to prune them? The limbs that have green tissue under the bark are still living and hopefully will develop new leaves in time. I'm still not sure why some of the limbs died back but from what you said it may have been caused by the lack of water for a period of time. There are a few caterpillars that will damage the leaves on the rebud tree. Most can eat enough of the leaves to leave them looking like skeletons with only the leaf veins left. Some caterpillars will roll the leaved up making nests inside the leaves. You may even see some spider like webbing on the leaves. Some caterpillars that emerge early in spring can also eat or damage most of the newly forming leaf buds. Whether this may have been the reason for some new leaves not developing I really don't know. For most garden pests I like to use neem oil or horticultural oils for control as these don't kill our beneficial insects. Unfortunately these organic insecticides don't provide the control needed when it comes to caterpillars. On small trees you can pick off the caterpillars and prune off any of the leaves that have eggs that have been laied on the underside of the leaves. If the leaves are rolled up the eggs can be found inside the rolled up leaves. To control these caterpillars you can spray bacillus thurengensis which is organic (bacterial)and less toxic to the caterpillars' natural enemies. There are several products you can find in nurseries and garden centers that will work well will a few being Safer Brand Caterpillar Killer and Greenlight BT Worm Killer. Let me know how you make out and if there is any new leaves developing on the still living limbs or if the trees condition seems to be getting worse.

3 years ago ·
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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Sharon-A few years ago I had the same problem with a lavender twist redbud. Leaves were starting to develop when we got hit with early hot temperatures. The tree is potted and was not watered before most all the leaves in the top of the tree where scorched, browned, and eventually dropped. That year only a few leaves developed in the bare areas of the upper stems. After two years the limbs are starting to leaf out and fill in again. Drought conditions can affect the developing leaves. If you had any late freezing temperatures this spring this could also cause damage to developing buds. I would first check to make sure these bare limbs are still alive. You can scratch off small spots of the outer bark with your fingernail or knife and check the color of the underlying tissue. If the tissue under the outer bark is green this area of the tree is still alive. If it is brown the limb is dead. Testing around the tree will tell you how much is still alive or dead. If the limbs are still alive it should sprout new leaves but how much foliage will replace the dead leaves this year is hard to tell. Only time will tell. The spots on the leaves last year could have been caused by insects and or some type of fungal disease. Spider mites will cause leaves to look spotted causing very small spots where they have entered the leaves to feed on the leaf juices. If there is enough damage the leaves will yellow, brown, and eventually drop. Too wet a soil and or humid conditions can also cause brown or black spotting of the leaves. Some fungal diseases can cause defoliation of the tree and possibly die back of some stems. Do the leaves that are on the tree look nice or is there any spotting or discoloration? Now that you are watering again just make sure to keep the soil moist but never too wet or dry. Sometimes once the soil is allowed to dry out it repels water and makes it hard to moisten the soil throughout the entire root ball. During warm temperatures it is always best to slowly deep soak the root ball once or twice a week than watering fast and shallow making sure the root ball is moistened to its entire depth. At this time I would not do any pruning of branches until it is known whether the limbs are still alive or not.

Let me know what you find when checking to see if the limbs are still alive.

John)


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Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thanks, John. We actually had a mild winter, but not too much spring rain. The leaves that are out look healthy. I will check the bare limbs to see what I find. Fingers crossed - it was a beautiful tree!

3 years ago ·
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