Serviceberry Help

(Question)

We have two serviceberries on either side of our front door. One side looks full and lush and the other hardly has any leaves left at this point. The branches and trunk seem to have changed colour to a greyish purple and the little leaves that are left are yellow/red. Is it a goner? What did we do wrong with this one but not on the other one that looks great? Is there anything we can do to save it or should it be replaced? They were both planted last year. Any help would be appreciated!

(Answer)

Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) commonly known as Juneberry, Shadbush is a deciduous, small tree or shrub in the rose family (Rosaceae). This woodland plant is among the first trees or shrubs to flower in the spring, with a profusion of white blossoms. It grows best in full sun or mostly sunny sites and prefers  moist, well-drained soil and requires watering regularly during the summer. While the serviceberry can adapt to living in alkaline or neutral soils, it much prefers to be planted in acidic soils. It is under greater stress when growing in clay soils.

As serviceberry is in the rose family (Rosaceae), it is susceptible to many of the same disease and insect pest problems seen in other species within the family (e.g. apples and pears). Entomosporium leaf spot (Entomosporium sp.) may cause serious spotting and partial defoliation on some selections, especially following rainy weather. Cedar-serviceberry rust affects twigs, buds, fruit and foliage and can disfigure these plant parts or result in witches’ brooms.

Without a photo of the plant in question and not knowing the plant’s location, (full sun, shade), is one of the plants situated too close to the house? near a dryer vent?  under an overhang?  receives less water? does it receive less sun? It is difficult to say what is wrong with your serviceberry.

The following articles list detailed descriptions of the diseases and pests that can affect this shrub and how to treat them:

www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/trees/hgic1026.html

www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2823&q=377934

You should also consider the application of well composted manure or compost as a mulch around your trees.  The mulch should be spread  a couple of inches away from the trunk, applying it to a depth of three or four inches. Application of the mulch will not only provide nutrients to the trees roots but will help the soil retain moisture and insulate the roots from fluctuating temperatures.

Hopefully with a little TLC, proper watering  and the addition of  organic matter your tree will recover and bounce back next year. Please feel free to email us a photo if you have additional concerns about your serviceberry.