japanese lilac issue

Asked July 24, 2016, 8:26 PM EDT

We recently planted a Japanese Lilac tree in our backyard. The leaves at the top of the tree look as if they are being eaten, yet there are no insects. Some leaves are beginning to turn brown. The lower leaves appear to be healthy. What's going on? What can I do to help this baby?

Macomb County Michigan

1 Response

If the tree was recently planted, was it planted correctly? How much water has the tree been receiving? How severe is the leaf damage at the top of the tree?

Newly planted trees can suffer from improper planting, from transplant shock, and from over or under watering. Trees under stress can also be a target for insects which somehow seem to know when a plant is struggling and can take advantage of the situation.

Start by checking that the tree was not planted too deeply or too shallow. Be sure that if the tree was balled and burlapped, that the burlap and any wire on the ball was opened or removed. Consider how much water you have been giving the tree. If the tree was planted in a heavy clay area, did you amend the soil? When you plant a tree in clay, if you change the soil in the hole, it may create a "bowl" effect, where water accumulates in the planting hole and that can affect the roots.

You may want to call the toll free MSU hotline at 1-888-678-3464 and discuss more with the Master Gardener.