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Q: Is that tree dead or alive? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Is that tree dead or alive?
Category: Science > Agriculture and Farming
Asked by: boomering-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 16 Apr 2003 10:50 PDT
Expires: 16 May 2003 10:50 PDT
Question ID: 191295
We planted two honey locust trees at our Chicago home last year. They
both lost their leaves over a peiod of 6 weeks in September-October
due to transplant shock. The 2 1/2 inch one has been sprouting very
tiny buds for about a week now, but the 5 inch one hasn't shown any
yet. I know the next month or so will tell the story, but I'm anxious
to know whether the 5 incher has survived. Is there a non-destructive
way to verify if a tree is dead or alive before the first signs of
growth in the Spring?
Subject: Re: Is that tree dead or alive?
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 16 Apr 2003 12:22 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi boomering,

Honey Locust typically loses all their leaves during the winter
months.  And what happened after transplanting is perfectly normal.

The non-destructive way to tell would be to wait about 3-4 weeks until
your weather stabilizes and lightly scrape the bark with your
fingernail on the distressed tree.  If you see green that's a good

You'll want to start feeding with a General Purpose Fertilizer in May,
June and September.
Call your local nursery for watering directions.

As Hummer stated, it is a good idea to give the seedling some time to
grow up, because it may be a slow starter.  However, if the bark shows
no sign of green that's a pretty good indication of a dying or dead


If the tree is dead, you might want to ask the nursery or store you
purchased it from about a replacement policy.  From my own experience,
if a planting didn't survive the store will replace it, either for
free or at a reduced price.


Research:  personal knowledge + called my friend who manages a giant
nursery where I live, who resided in Chicago-land all his live prior
to moving to the Southwest.

Best regards,

Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by boomering-ga on 16 Apr 2003 20:54 PDT
Hi tlspiegel ,

Just to clarify my question, when I talked about the 2 1/2 and 5 inch
sizes, i was talking about the diameter of the trunk. In your answer
you are referring to a "seedling", which makes me wonder if you
thought I was talking about the height of the plant? The distressed
tree is the 5 incher, and it is probably 20 to 25 feet tall. Does your
finger-nail on bark advice still make sense?

Clarification of Answer by tlspiegel-ga on 16 Apr 2003 21:50 PDT
Hi boomering,

I did mention seedling because I did think you were referring to the
height, but my recommendation would apply to any tree (or bush)
regardless of size in height or width of trunk, and also applies to
any age of the tree.

This is a non-invasive, non-destructive way to test.  Another
suggestion you might want to do, is put a white sheet of paper
underneath a branch and see if any mites or small bugs are visible. 
Certain kinds of mites can suck all the moisture out of a tree in a
very short time, which will cause a tree's demise.

A long time ago while living in Chicago-land someone told me: "When
you plant 5 trees exactly the same age on the same day, if 3 survive -
that's a good result."
I don't know how true that is, but it does represent my luck with
trees to a great extent!

Good Luck to you,

Google Answers Researcher
boomering-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Is that tree dead or alive?
From: hummer-ga on 16 Apr 2003 11:26 PDT
Hi boomering,

Even if the tree appears to be dead above ground, the roots may still
be alive. We have had a tree completely die back only to be surprised
to find new sprouts coming out of the ground.  Our motto is, don't
give up hope for at least a year.

Good luck,

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