Wilting of some leaves on a weeping redbud

Asked September 10, 2019, 9:34 PM EDT

Hi, I have a weeping redbud that started having dead limbs and leaves. The pattern is inconsistent. At first I thought it could be needing water and/or fertilization so I added two sticks of fertilizer and increased watering. Does not seem to have improved. The dead branches and leaves seemed to be on the inside so that was what made me think it was lack of water/fertilization. Some leaves show some spotting but not sure if that is normal during wilting. As you can see one side started showing the inside because of dead branches & leaves. It used to have a beautiful consistent canopy throughout . Please advise. I hate to see it die without me trying to help save it.

Dallas County Texas trees and shrubs

5 Responses

This is going to be a difficult diagnosis to make by simply looking at an image. I do not thing this tree has a disease that is responsible for the crown problems you are experiencing. The contorted branching habit of an weeping redbud could explain the open space in the canopy, which means you should probably start training the branches in this area to fill in the gap. Having said that, this tree may be suffering from stress brought on by the brutal heat we have experienced this summer. Redbuds are known to do well in full sun, but ideally like partial shade. From the angle of the image, it appears this tree gets a lot of sunlight, and it may be too much for it, thus causing what appears to be some general stress response in the form of randomly scattered yellow foliage. If the stress becomes too great, then a canker disease sets in , called Bot canker, that will start causing limbs and branches to die with a slow decline of the tree over 3 - 5 years. I do not see any evidence of branch death at this point, but it is something to keep in mind. Hopefully, this is a very well drained site, meaning you can increase the watering a little without killing the tree from too much soil moisture, but you must be very careful on this point. Red buds do not like constant "wet feet" and must dry out well. It is getting late in the growing season, and I do not recommend overwatering at this point. Inspect the gap in the canopy. If there are long, dead areas (cankers) on the branches, they should be pruned out. With such a contorted mass of branches, it will not be unusual to find some dead ones down in the shaded canopy, but this is normal. As I said, you should probably start training limbs and branches to shape the canopy so that these gaps can be avoided. Watch the tree next spring - if the problem gets a lot worse, get back to this site with more images and we can take another look.

Thanks David. Very much appreciated. The breaks in the canopy only happened after the sudden death of leaves and their branches. I cleaned those up and cut a little farther up on the Branch where the branch was still alive. There was also some dead branches in the underside of the canopy as you said there would be. We have been in this house for 5 yrs and this plant was there when we moved (developed) so my guess it must be 7-8 yrs old. I am starting to see new dead leaves but cannot ascertain if that is due to heat or the canker. I water the tree every other day (3 min) on top of the every other day sprinkler watering for the yard. I started seeing some discoloration on the leaves too (photo example attached). Looking forward to your reply.

Thanks David. Very much appreciated. The breaks in the canopy only happened after the sudden death of leaves and their branches. I cleaned those up and cut a little farther up on the Branch where the branch was still alive. There was also some dead branches in the underside of the canopy as you said there would be. We have been in this house for 5 yrs and this plant was there when we moved (developed) so my guess it must be 7-8 yrs old. I am starting to see new dead leaves but cannot ascertain if that is due to heat or the canker. I water the tree every other day (3 min) on top of the every other day sprinkler watering for the yard. I started seeing some discoloration on the leaves too (photo example attached). Looking forward to your reply.

Wow! With so much pruning, it is not unusual for some of the leaves to defoliate. Also, the tree will soon be going through natural defoliation with seasonal change. Your watering regime sounds reasonable. I think you are now in a wait and see mode.

Thanks Dr. David. So no need to change water or feeding scheme then. Hopefully things turn out for the best. Best regards