Oregon White Oak dying?

Asked August 16, 2018, 11:24 AM EDT

My husband and I were married 2 years ago and planted an Oregon white oak tree into a pot as part of the ceremony. Unfortunately, the tree started doing very poorly this summer. It has brown spots on the leaves, limb dieback, and the leaves seem to be turning brown and dying from the outside of the tree going in. Even the leaves themselves appear to be dying from the outside edges inward. Below is information that might be helpful in diagnosing the problem: 1) The tree is still in a pot. The pot is well sized and is planted into the ground for temperature control. We haven't planted it because we want to make sure we are staying in our current house before doing so. 2) We moved to a new house last September 2017. The tree was doing really well at our last house but began struggling this year shortly after it first sprouted leaves. There are other oaks on the property but none of them appear to have any issues. 3) In the spring, when leaves were just starting, it looked like something may have eaten all the tips of the limbs off. I am now wondering if that was early dieback. 4) We sprayed the tree with neem oil early in the season because some of the surrounding fruit trees on the property had been neglected and appeared to have pest issues. 5) We sprayed the tree with a fungicide just this week because a bit of Googling showed that the issue may be Anthracnose. 6) We may have overwatered it this summer. It is hard to gauge the appropriate watering amount because it is in a pot and can't absorb water from the surrounding ground through its roots as easily. However, we watered it a similar amount last year and it did very well. The soil it is currently in, both in and around the pot, is very well draining soil. Any help or insight you can provide would be very appreciated! We are very worried that the tree we have from our wedding ceremony might die and we'd like to save it if at all possible.

Benton County Oregon

1 Response


Well I have to say this is the first time I have had a question quite like this. Thank you for all the info, and particularly the images.

An extended time in a pot is a hard life for any tree. The shorter it is potted the better, but keeping it in a pot for a while seems quite feasible. I know this is a special tree for you, which is problematic, since there is never any guarantee that a tree will survive under the best of conditions.

But looking at the photos was reassuring to me. Although you focused on individual leaf pictures, each of which has an issue, those as well as the rest of the tree in the background, seems ok, within the realm of normal. Our oaks often look kind of rough by this time of year, with pale or spotted leaves. The totally dead leaf might be concerning, but I get the impression that there are green leaves beyond it on that shoot (that looks quite vigourous).

I doubt it matters much ether way about fungus or insecticide spray. Watering is more of an issue. It wold be important to water thoroughly when you do, frequently in spring and early summer, then only every few weeks now in late summer. The tree and its roots are adapted to long dry periods.

Same would apply when you get to plant in in its final destination. Oaks are tough trees, and are adapted to harsh conditions. one adaptation is for it to grow in a bushy form in adverse conditions, while it builds a root system. I would not be surprised if that is how this tree acts then. But in the meantime, although nothing is certain, I think it is probably ok.