Red Bud tree in decline

Asked August 27, 2020, 4:56 PM EDT

My large redbud tree as been in decline for the last three years. I removed about 1/3 of the lower limbs in the spring because they were dead. You can see in the picture a limb dying. I have fertilized the tree with 10-10-10 in augered holes around drip line this yr and 2 yrs ago. Still declining. Can it be saved?

Kenton County Kentucky

5 Responses

It is tough to really be sure it can be salvaged. If the limb is dead and brittle then it most likely dead. I suggest that you trim out limbs that are dead. Naturally, red bud trees grow best at the edge of a forest. Thus a semi-shaded area is their preference. Fertilization is probably not going to save the tree if is at an old age decline. I also suggest you look for long cracks or splits in the bark on the main trunk, near the first branches. This could be freeze cracks that happen when the nights are really cold and the days are warm in months like February and early March. Nothing that can be done for that either. Just monitor it over the next year or so and if you notice unusual coloration or insects feel free to bring in samples to our office.

I inspected the tree again. I see no cracks but I did notice some bark popping off the truck nearer to the ground. Possibly bores? Also, as I see it the tree has been declining since I bought this location three years ago. In light that the location is in the direct sun for the entire day could you recommend a flowering native or other tree as a replacement? I am thinking of getting a replacement this fall.

I do not see any holes indicating a borer on the bark. Do you see any 1/4inch round holes in the trunk?


No holes, I thought the bark popping off was a sign of bores.

Typically borers drill into the tree bark. Holes are the indication of that. The bark popping off could be freeze crack. Which means that during days when daytime temperatures were warm the tree expanded followed by cold night time temperature when the tree contracted and the result are cracks or loose bark.