Newly Planted Serviceberry trees – leaves turning yellow-orange

(Question)


Hello,

My husband and I planted 2 serviceberry trees last weekend (May 24) and 1 week later, we see that several leaves have fallen and others have turned yellow or orange. We are in Bolton and the soil is clayey. We dug out some of the soil to plant the trees and put it some triple mix and bone meal at the bottom and around. Other important detail: the trees are planted in a slope. See attached photo. Does that look normal? Please let us know if you think there’s something we did wrong and if so, hopefully we’ll be able to make changes since they’ve been planted only 1 week ago. Thank you!

 

 

(Answer)

Serviceberry, Saskatoonberry, Shadbush, and Juneberry are all common names, often regional, of the same genus, Amelanchier spp..  I add this tidbit of information, as it is often important to know what the scientific name might be, as there are often so many common names, some of which cross with a completely different plant. To be fair, I can plainly see it’s an Amelanchier spp.

I don’t think that the yellowing leaves are anything that you have done wrong. Perhaps a wider hole with more compost mixed with the clay soil to aerate and allow water to penetrate better might be called for. What I am sure is happening is a bit of transplant shock. Many plants lose weaker leaves when they get moved from their comfortable nursery, placed cheek by jowl in a truck then tightly squeezed with other shrubs in their new, yet short lived homes in your local nursery. Sometimes they don’t get watered properly, that is deeply enough, especially in the warmer weather.

When planting your new shrub, especially if it is in a pot, it should be thoroughly soaked with water to loosen the roots and get them ready for their new environment. The addition of bone meal is fine, but I think transplant fertilizer may be called for. Transplant fertilizer is designed to encourage the feeder root growth, and comes in a ratio of 5-15-5. The middle number is phosphorus, and is what is needed to encourage the roots to grow.

The hole, especially in clay, should be at least two times wider than the root ball, and the bottom filled with compost or triple mix – just what you did. I looked carefully at your photo, and your shrub, despite being on a slope, is planted vertically, just as it should be. With the slope, however, more frequent, deep watering might be needed while the roots settle and hold the water. Mulching to a depth of 10 cm around the shrub, without the mulch actually touching the bark (prevents moisture build up and the possibility of fungal growth on the bark), will keep moisture in the soil.