Dying beech tree


Hi there, I planted 5 Dawyck columnar green beech trees this spring to form a hedge. One of them was the most beautiful and the biggest (50mm caliper), came with hundreds of buds and the buds started to open as the weather got warmer after planted. However the buds never fully opened before they started to dry out. This process took a while for about 2-3 months. In the meanwhile, I don’t think I did anything wrong. I regularly water all of them. I did have someone to spray soap on them twice as they all had beech blight aphids and I’m pretty sure they were brought in from the nursery where these trees were sourced. The other 4 trees seem to do well except this one. Now I can see that this tree’s branches are changing into a bronze color gradually and the branches are dying back. Is this tree dying? Is there still any hope? I can’t figure out what went wrong with this one. If I wait until next spring, will it have any chance to recover?

Many thanks!


Congratulations on being aware of the needs of newly planted trees. The Dawyck columnar beech thrives in any type of soil that is well-drained. Your care in this first season of your five trees suggests good attention. The European Fagus sylvatica is relatively pest resistant, aphids easily controlled by a simple blast of water from the garden hose. The beech  has very few disease issues other than scales. In future, remember to inspect the trunk and limbs for scale and treat according to Ontario’s allowed controls. Use the OMAFRA site for this.

Because small trees experience less root loss when transplanted, they establish themselves more quickly, usually overtaking their larger counterparts which could account for why the buds on the larger caliper tree took longer for the buds to open.

This beech is a showy variety, turning copper in the fall.  The particular tree you are concerned about  is following the normal pattern because it is the largest, more mature one, and thus it may be ready to change for the season before the other four.Enjoy the colour!

If you are concerned and want to know if  your tree is still viable, scrape away a bit of the bark with your fingernail. If you see green underneath the bark, then the tree is still viable. It is natural for some twigs to dry and die in the first season, so just trim these carefully to maintain the good looks of your new hedge.

This website provides excellent information on the proper care of trees.