Stunted Northern Catalpa on the Front Range

Asked June 18, 2020, 7:46 AM EDT

We planted a Northern Catalpa tree from a local nursery in our front yard 3 years ago. The first 2 years the tree grew well, located in the north facing portion of our yard. This past spring, it was very late to leaf out, and appears to have only leafed out from the west facing side of the tree. The other 2 Catalpas in our neighborhood were very late to leaf out, but appear to have both fully leafed out. We've also noticed suckers appearing from the bottom of our Catalpa. What should we do to help this tree survive? The parts of the tree where there are no leaves appears dry and woody. When scratched, there appears to be no green cambium below on those sections. Should we prune back what appears to be dead wood, and let the tree try to leaf out into those areas? I assume this has something to do with the unusually cold temperatures we had in late April this year?

Boulder County Colorado

1 Response

Western Catalpa trees generally do very well in our clay soil and need little water. Tree insect infestation and disease are not a major concern to date. The photos do not show clearly the suckers you described. If, you have found no bacterial or pest disease then most likely your Catalpa was affected by the late April storm. The dead wood can be removed at any time. Your lawn looks green and healthy so I don't think that it is a water problem. I suggest giving it a bit more time and observing it for insects, cracks, pests, etc.

I hope that this was helpful.