Newly Planted Arborvitae

Asked June 18, 2020, 5:30 PM EDT

Hi there, I had several 7' arborvitae planted in February. They were in burlap balls and were planted about 2.5 feet apart. I've been watering (when it's not raining often) about 2-3 times a week with a soaker hose for half and hour. But I have random branches that are turning brown. They keep popping up in more numbers. I don't see any pests and tested the soil and it's on the acidic side. What can I do to make sure I'm not losing them? Thanks Jennifer

Clackamas County Oregon

5 Responses

Thank yo for uploading images with your inquiry.

These close views show minor damage, some of which may just be broken/cracked twigs which occurred during planting.

To determine if the something potentially more serious may be occurring, please send a few more images and answer the questions below.

The preferred images:
1.) The entire row, or at least a sizeable section of it, and its surroundings.
2.) An overall (top to bottom) image of the tree you consider to be most seriously affected.
3.) The placement of the soaker including the bottom foot or so of the trees.

The questions re how the trees were planted:
a. size of planting holes
b. were any amendments (fertilizer; potting soil; etc.) added to the holes?
- If yes, what?
c. was the burlap removed?
- If yes, did the rootballs remain intact or did they crack/fall apart?

I look forward to your response.

Hi Jean,

Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it. So here are some further pictures showing the whole row of shrubs, and the soaker hose (which is just wrapped around the bottom.

I spoke to the person who planted the shrubs because I wasn't outside with them when they planted them. (when I asked him about the brown branches he just said that it's normal with newly planted shrubs) They said the burlap stayed on the root ball and that they planted them as deep as the root ball. They did put a granular fertilizer on when they were planted, but the guy didn't know what brand. And then about a month ago, I put Jobe's Organic general fertilizer granular pellets. I haven't watered in a bit since it stopped raining. The brown spots do continue to increase.

Thanks again for any thoughts you might have.

Thank you for the update and the additional images. So far, the trees look to be a healthy green color. If any start going off color (a gray-green or blue-green), they need water!

Don't put on any more fertilizer. The trees need to grow roots, not tops.

And please do check the moisture content of the rootballs tonight. Most likely the roots are either dry or soon will be.

With the predicted rapid temperature rise to the 90s beginning early tomorrow, the trees will rapidly use what little bit of moisture that remains.

If the twigs and branches start to droop, the trees may beyond the point of no return.

Please explain how the soaker hose is set up. It could run along both sides of the trees, or be placed in a zig zag down the row.The key to get water into the root system is to have the hose on top of at least one side of the rootball.

How long do you run the system? Anything less than an hour a day may be too little.

FYI - The next time you have any trees planted, make certain the burlap is removed. When it's left in place, it's very likely to cause problems in the future.

Hi Jean,
That is really good to know about the burlap. I wasn't sure about that. And thank you for confirming the watering schedule. I'm always worried about over-watering, but it sounds like I need to pick up the pace. I really appreciate your advise, this extension offering is amazing!! Again, I appreciate the help and hope you're having a good summer so far.

Yes, you need to pick up the pace so that the trees get through the summer. Recall that evenly moist is the goal, not soggy wet.

And yes, I'm having a good summer. With today's mild temperatures, I just spent 3 hours of tidying the garden.

Take care during this strange time of quarantine.