Serviceberry Tree


We are in Windsor, Ontario. Just 3 weeks ago I put this serviceberry in my front yard. It is corner house. Just after few days leafs started getting yellow. picture attached. Any idea or help.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry about your new Serviceberry tree.

There are two possibilities here; one is the onset of a disease, or most likely having these symptoms appear  just three days after transplant, you are most likely looking at transplant shock.

There are a few factor which can exacerbate the normal stress of transplant, but planting in the midst of  hot summer can be key.

I will outline key proper planting practices, so you can compare with what you did, then some insight what you can do going forward.

Planting Process

The condition of the root ball should be checked to to ensure it is not damaged or dropped in transit. Then if it is in a container, remove and check that it is not tightly root bound. If so it should be properly loosened, so that roots will grow outward and water can actually be absorbed into the root ball.

It is best not to plant in the mid-day  hot sun, better in the cool evening. When digging the hole, ensure that the hole is at least 50% larger than the root ball, so that when you backfill quality soil, there are no air pockets around the roots, and root have a good medium to grow into.  It is important once you have dug the hole and placed  the tree to proper depth,  to backfill a quality mix of soil just one third way up the hole. Then before continuing, take a hose and I like to say “drown” the tree in the hole. This helps the root ball soak up water  ( as it may be very dry), but also helps to soak surrounding soil, while also eliminating any air pockets below. Once the water has been absorbed, then continue to back fill, being careful to ensure there are no air-pockets, then soak in thoroughly.

As a preferred option, it would also be beneficial to add a transplant fluid mix into the the surrounding backfill to encourage new roots to grow outward into the the new environment.

Many transplant failures occur because new trees are unable to uptake enough water because of either damaged roots, or insufficient water available to roots. Many times an unwitting owner sprays water on top of the soil after planting, not realizing that this only soaks into the first few inches, leaving the bulk of the roots high and dry.

Other factors which lead to transplant shock include, change in sunlight,  soil types , PH, drainage, etc. Remember Serviceberry prefer a slightly acidic soil.


Going forward:

From the photo, it looks like the tree is not severely shocked, so if  you are able to water the plant to a proper depth several time a week for the first few months, tree will hopefully rebound.  In the fall you may want to prune back weakened or dead branches. If the tree still looks compromised in the fall, you might want to look at exercising your warranty if you have one.

Best of luck with your new tree.