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I've posted last year about my young Whitebeam tree which is not thriving. I decided to give it another year to see whether things would improve but if anything it looks more sparse and the leaves are falling even earlier. I've regularly fed and watered it. Could there be anything else causing these problems? It's in alkaline soil - not great quality but have added lots of manure and compost to the border over the last few years and other plants are thriving there.
It's mainly to provide privacy from a neighbours window and I don't know whether to bite the bullet and replace this tree with something else? It's barely grown at all and I need something to grow fast and bushy in this border asap!
Any advice? TIA
What do you feed it with
Hi Abby2, We did exactly like you when we moved into our house 4 years ago. I just picked out any old tree to the gardener and said to put it in to give us privacy from a neighbour too.
He planted this Swedish White Beam, and for the first 3 years it didn't do much, except look pathetically sparse and then leaves would get brown and curled up and drop off!
Anyway, this year I had a lot of new topsoil dug in to the borders and my white beam looks a lot better. I reckon another year and I will not be able to see our neighbours window at all.
It is the first year it has actually flowered too, and now we have some kind of white berries on it. I also cut off the lower few branches to enable me to underplant. I think it gives it a better look. If you can bear to stick with the tree, then my pic should give you some idea of how it will look in a years time maybe?
My borders are still a work in progress , but I have attached a photo to show you anyway - and I have a useless camera too!
Our young tree looks exactly like yours, I put it down to too much sun scorching the leaves, but then I know nothing about trees - not a lot about anything for that matter. It could be down to the soil, we don't have great soil either, but it seems to have grown a little in the few months it's been there. I hope mine ends up like Mrs T's. Hey we could be Whitebeam buddies! They are one of the prettiest trees I've seen.
You give me hope Mrs T - your tree looks lovely
I would be sad to get rid of it as they are very pretty trees and I like the dense foliage which is just what I need for our privacy issue. It seemed to be unfussy about soil type too.
I'm feeding regularly with Miracle gro and also gave it fish, blood and bone earlier on in spring. Is there anything else I could try?
I am not sure what else - if anything - you could do Abby2. I have only fed mine for the first time this year, obviously all the new top soil probably helped, but I also sprinkled some granular feed on to the whole border at the end of May. I think it was by Vita max and it was called gro more. Hope this helps.
If your whitebeam was a standard tree when you planted it [like Mrs T tree was] then they usually take 3 years for the roots to settle in, even longer in adverse conditions. I would suggest patience and give it 2 or 3 years more and then make a decision.
Hi again, I meant to add last night that some of the leaves on my whitebeam do still, all of a sudden, just fall off. It's not all of them though. I asked in the local trade garden nursery and they said that whilst they are still young they still struggle with the elements. Apparently, wind can affect the leaves, and my garden is a very open, windy site. So Invicta2 is spot on about them taking longer to settle in adverse conditions. Depending on where you are in the country, you may have had some wetter or windier weather the last year or so.
Great advice - thank you I feel reassured now!
The garden is quite windy so that could well be affecting it too. I'm going to keep feeding and nurturing it as suggested. Hopefully I'll have a lovely bushy tree in the next few years
I wouldnt be surprised in the slightest if the tree was taking its time to establish like stated above which can happen due to enviromental stress, and definitely would give it more time
Another factor involved is the close proximity of plants and shrubs, they will be competing for water and nutrients
But, I will answer your questions in the context of your post and your picture of the tree. I asked what you were feeding it with, what is the NPK on the Miracle Gro because some can vary, is it 10:10:10 N= Nitrogen P=Phosphorus K=Potassium
I dont want to bore you on the scientific stuff so I will try and explain it in layman terms
You have already stated that your soil is Alkaline.
Alkaline soil can inhibit your tree from taking up Nitrogen, one of the tell tale signs of Nitrogen Deficiency is young leaves with a bleached appearance just like your picture shows
Too much Phosphorus in the soil which builds up with too much feeding of Phosphorus which stays in the soil a long time and is not easily dispersed can inhibit the uptake of Nitrogen in your tree
P and K can stay in the soil for long periods of time where as N dissapears quickly and can get washed away
Nitrogen is essential for leafy growth, but it has to be applied exactly as instructed on the product, too much Nitrogen can lead to other problems
Ammonium Sulphate in liquid form can be used this year as a quick fix to try and get new dark growth on your leaves, but I will make you aware your shrubs will feed off this as well so you are in a bit of a dilemma
Next year late Feb use a granular slow release fertilizer NPK like a 10: 5: 5
Buddyboy - that's brilliant thank you! That's exactly what's going on as other plants in my border although growing well do have pale mottled leaves..
I'll get some ammonium sulphate as you suggest
A cautionary word regarding alkalinity; you should be aware that although Whitebeam is tolerant of most soil types, its natural home is on chalk downland and even limestone cliffs, so you should not worry too much about that.
What has not been mentioned here is poor drainage. This has been a serious problem with my newly planted Whitebeam on clay soil. Last winter and spring were particularly wet here in Derbyshire (any most other places) and during heavy rain the planting hole just filled with water and stayed there. The result was that it just stopped growing - the leaves didn't fall; it just stopped.
This year, it is still alive and although the first leaves have not yet fully unfurled (end of April) I am hopeful that my extreme measures to bail out the water will mean that it will establish itself and grow into the thing of beauty that is Whitebeam.
What has not been mentioned here is poor drainage. This has been a serious problem with my newly planted Whitebeam on clay soil. Last winter and spring (2013/2014) were particularly wet here in Derbyshire (any most other places) and during heavy rain water just filled the planting hole and stayed there. The result was that it just stopped growing - the leaves didn't fall; it just stopped.