Redbud tree leaves turning brown

Asked August 17, 2019, 8:31 AM EDT

Hope you're doing well. I have a 7-year-old redbud tree that, so far, has been doing well and it's planted in a shaded area in my backyard. When the extreme temperatures hit several weeks ago and high temperatures consistently in the 90s or more, about 70% of the leaves turned brown and looks like they're about to fall off and similar to what usually happens in November. There are some green leaves left, but it's pretty dramatic. I assume this is due to the high temperatures? I've tried to water the tree, but, at this point, it seems like the leave are so brown they'll just fall off. I probably should have watered the tree more and didn't get around to it everyday. Do you think my tree will survive? I've attached a photo and some of the leaves still appear to be green. Thanks!

Montgomery County Maryland native abiotic issues trees redbud redbud branches dying

1 Response

It's possible that the redbud is dying from drought, which dies up and kills roots. We see that it has some very surface roots, which suggests that the soil is hard or poor below. In that case, water deeply through fall (many droughts extend into fall.)

It could also be a disease, Botryosphaeria, which you can't treat. It is associated with drought. It will die eventually.

In any case, prune out totally dead branches. To determine whether a branch is dead, scratch the bark and look for green tissue underneath. Green indicates it is still alive.

You may want to see how it goes next spring. If it has lost too much of its canopy, replace it.

Ellen