My itea virginica Henry Garnet and Fothergilla are showing fall coloration?

Asked June 14, 2015, 11:24 PM EDT

My itea virginica Henry Garnet and Fothergilla are showing fall coloration. They bloomed beautifully this spring but now the leaves are rust colored. No leaf droppage. All were planted last May 2014. They are in full sun, not great drainage but it does drain. I just fertilized with a holly tone 10-10-10 and a secondary fertilizer today June 14 (which was probably washed away with the downpour we had tonight!) What do you think?

Cecil County Maryland

1 Response

Although itea normally has a little purple or red in its new and late foliage, this purple coloration is stress related. For whatever reason, apparently these plants have not established themselves well.

Please stop putting fertilizer on them. Soil has plenty of nutrients and, except for maybe a liquid fertilizer when you plant them, they do not need to be fertilized.

Be sure they are not planted too deeply (they will slowly die). They must be planted at the same level they were in their containers. Also, do not pile mulch on the trunks, stems or base of the plants. Mulch should always be a few inches away from the base and no more than 1-2" deep.

Also, be sure to water when there is less than about 1" of rain a week. One good watering a week should do it. Stick you finger in the soil to determine if watering is needed. Do not water on a schedule. The top of soil need not stay wet. You can let the soil get dry about 1" down before you water.

For more tips, see our planting pub for trees: