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Q: Is that tree dead or alive?, Part III ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Is that tree dead or alive?, Part III
Category: Science > Agriculture and Farming
Asked by: boomering-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 21 May 2003 10:45 PDT
Expires: 20 Jun 2003 10:45 PDT
Question ID: 206856
My honey locust, 5" trunk, which was newly planted last year,
initially this Spring seemed to have a live trunk with dead branches.
Well, now we're halfway through May, and the top half of the crown is
leaved, but the bottom half is not. My question is: what does this
mean as to the survival of the tree? Is this a common occurrence? (I'm
in the Chicago area and we had a hard winter last year with little
snow cover, and the tree did experience transplant shock in that it
lost all its leaves prematurely by August). What am I to make of this
lack of foliage in the bottom half of the crown....the top half looks
full and healthy. I'm trying to figure out whether the tree is on its
way back or on its way out.....

Request for Question Clarification by cynthia-ga on 21 May 2003 11:54 PDT
Is there any way you can take a picture of the tree and post it on the Internet?

Clarification of Question by boomering-ga on 21 May 2003 12:31 PDT
Yes, I can take a digital shot, but i'll need to do it tomorrow as i'm
leaving for the day right now. Any suggestions as to sites where on
the internet i can upload the jpeg to would be appreciated.

Request for Question Clarification by tlspiegel-ga on 21 May 2003 14:45 PDT
Hi again boomering,

Still having issues with that large tree?  I'm sorry.  Try registering
and uploading your image at one of the following free sites: (limit 60,000 bytes per image) (2 week free trial period) 

And then post the URL of the image here. We'll get this figured out
for you.

Have you ever called the nursery or store where you purchased the tree
to ask them what the status might be?  Some places will come out and
take a look-see for free and evaluate what's what.  And I've
personally had the nursery I do business with replace two trees for no
cost due to conditions beyond my control.

I'm assuming the smaller diameter trunk honey locust is doing well -
and since they were both planted at the same time, there might be a
single problem with the other tree.  Do they both get the same amount
of shade and water.  Have you fed them yet?

Post your picture when you can and perhaps that will give us a clue.

Best regards to you,

Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Question by boomering-ga on 21 May 2003 21:43 PDT
Here's a shot of the tree:

Clarification of Question by boomering-ga on 21 May 2003 22:04 PDT
The nursery is unavailable to me as this was installed by a
landscaping outfit which is proving to be evasive now that i need help
that might involve honoring a warrantee. The smaller (2" trunk) honey
locust is doing fine, and yes they do both get the same amount of
light and water. And yes, they had a deep root feeding by an arborist
about a month ago. At that point the large one had no sprouts, and the
arborist didn't think it was going to make it. It's not visible on the
picture, but the large tree has 3 or 4 sprouts on the trunk itself as
well as the action up at the top of the crown. I'd love to keep this
tree if it's going to survive and thrive, but if it's on it's way out,
i'd just as soon take it out and get a healthy one planted ASAP.

Request for Question Clarification by tlspiegel-ga on 21 May 2003 22:19 PDT
Hi again,

Nice blue sky!  Good picture... As for the tree... it's very much
alive and I agree it's an oddity to see so much that's not leafing

In my non-professional opinion, I'd gently cut back on the trunk
everything that has no green.  Pruning up to the bottom of the green
canopy.  Which means you will be cutting off anything that's not
alive.  If you see any buds don't cut.  Cut close to the trunk being
careful not to damage the trunk.  You'll cut up to the top of the last
dead branch.

Am I correct in stating that weather reports in your area are still in
the throes of unstable warming at this point?

Even where I live which is the hottest place in the US... I had to cut
back at least 1/3 of a citrus tree that just wasn't looking too
terrific.  I pruned way more than recommended and guess what?  It
stimulated growth in less than two weeks.  So cut away... You'll
always want to prune of dead branches and one more suggestion you need
not do now because of lack of growth.  When and if your tree gets a
heavy growth of green and you find leaves dropping/shedding more so
than you think is normal - cut into the middle of the tree growth so
more sunlight can enter through the thickness.  That does not apply
now, obviously... but a newer tree needs a lot of air holes for light
to enter.

Last year I had to do that to my ficus.  Growth was too fast and it
was becoming a pain in the butt to clean up after.  I got my step
ladder and pruned away in the middle cutting off very healthy tree
growth, and that worked out just fine.

Good luck to you... if you feel this answered your question, please
post another clarification and I'll be happy to place the
clarification in the answer box.


Google Answers Researcher

Request for Question Clarification by tlspiegel-ga on 21 May 2003 23:21 PDT
I didn't see your clarification until now regarding the arborist...
and the budding on the tree.  My opinion is to give the tree at least
throughout the summer and see how it produces. Make sure to give
sufficient deep watering
when it gets brutally hot out there.  

You say: "It's not visible on the picture, but the large tree has 3 or
4 sprouts on the trunk itself as well as the action up at the top of
the crown."

If those 'buds' are just buds and no branch to speak of, they're
called 'sucker's and you should remove them because they're doing the
tree no good and are really just suck up nutrients that are needed for
upper growth.

Not an uncommon thing to see in tree trunks.  Just pull them off.  

Here's a good site with pictures on pruning.

Tree Pruning Guide

OK... I do hope this has helped you.  Not much can be said for the
trees actual potential to do well or not do well.  It really doesn't
appear stressed where the healthy growth is.  I'd say give it a year,
and prune off all dead up to the canopy.  (If you see any new growth
on what appears to be a dead branch cut above the healthy part and it
will split with new green.)


Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Question by boomering-ga on 22 May 2003 08:42 PDT
Hi tlspiegle,

I think that pretty well answered the question. The only things I'm
not sure i'm understanding is these:

1)If I remove all the dead branches, it's going to be a pretty funny
looking tree in that the canopy will be way up high, so it will look
like a skinny lollipop. Will new branch growth occur below the new
canopy? And if so, how do I tell "suckers" from real new branches?

2)Originally, I thought all the branches were dead, and then i got
this new growth on the upper half of the canopy. How do I know the
remaining branches are really dead?
Subject: Re: Is that tree dead or alive?, Part III
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 22 May 2003 10:39 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Good morning boomering,

Would you believe I had a dream last night about a forest.  (Do ya'
think it had anything to do with your honey locust tree question?)  :)

OK - I called my nursery manager friend and we had a "non-viewable
consultation" about your tree!  The advice is give the tree more time.
 If the
top of your tree is doing well, the bottom will eventually fill in. 
Give it more time.  That's the bottom line.

At the end of November (giving it one full year) if you have seen no
improvement, perform the scraping technique on a select amount of
lower dead-looking branches, on up to the bottom of healthy canopy.

Again, if you see any green - this signifies healthy and if you see no
green it's dead.  Chop it off!  Cut close to the trunk, about 1/2"
being careful to not gouge the trunk and also not to leave too much.

Eventually (no one can say how long, might be a few weeks to sometime
within a year) new branches will develop.  They probably won't develop
in the same place but the tree stands a good chance of having a canopy
that's normal looking.

Suckers:  anything growing low on the trunk - approximately up to 10
feet from the ground - is a sucker if it has no branch.  It will
generally look like green buds or a small green (not brown) branch
with leaves... remove.  It's sucking nutrients out of the tree. 
Remove them periodically whenever you see them during the life of the

If you are concerned about cosmetic looks of the tree being a bit
unusual looking then please do cut it down but in essence that tree is
very much alive.  It's still stressed from the transplantation.  But
it will come around.  Since November was only 6 months ago, and you're
coming into a nice warm time of the year, your tree should do well
over the summer.

Honey locusts do very well out where I live.  They love warm weather.

Disclaimer:  No guarantees of course, and without seeing the tree up
close and personal I'm second-guessing.  In truth, even an arborist is
giving you an opinion... because nature has to take it's course.

Research terms used in varying combinations:  
"prune trees", "tree suckers" + Personal knowledge, and consultation
with nursery

Best regards :)

Google Answers Researcher
boomering-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Good timely responses and I sensed a personal commitment to resolve the question.

Subject: Re: Is that tree dead or alive?, Part III
From: tlspiegel-ga on 22 May 2003 11:35 PDT
Hi boomering,

Thank you very much for the nice rating and tip!  :)

Best regards,  

Google Answers Researcher

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