Suddenly Spotting
January 29, 2012 10:02 AM   Subscribe

What is afflicting my ornamental trees?

Over the last week I've noticed both of my Red Kapok tree's leaves - I have two, two years old each in the same pots they've been in since I started them from seed - turning yellow and brown with some spots/curling, and what looks like rot on the bottom of where the leaves attach to the stem. I've read quite a bit and I'm assuming it's Leaf Spot Fungus or Elsinoe but it doesn't look exactly like any of the pictures I've found and I don't want to do the wrong thing if they're dying. I'm wondering if it's a deficiency of some sort, but I fertilize with fish emulsion every 2 months or so in the winter here in FL so I think it's getting nutrients. Help!
posted by dozo to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
That's a wonderful tree!

I did a quick search and if it's the same variety as this, it might be that you're feeding too often?

Good luck - hope it sorts itself out.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 10:25 AM on January 29, 2012

D'oh - " ...if yours are the same variety ..." must check hasty fingers before typing
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 10:31 AM on January 29, 2012

It looks like fungus of some type, but without a tissue culture, it's hard to say exactly what. Take some leaves to your local nursery or ag. extension for better id and treatment.

It looks like you may have a nutrient deficiency as well, especially if they've been in pots in the same soil for the last two years. The soil should be slightly acidic- alkaline soils promote Magnesium deficiency, which is what you may have. If the soil pH is not correct, it doesn't matter how much or often you fertilize, the plant can take up the nutrients. The possible deficiency looks like more of a problem to me than the fungal problem, as the tree should go deciduous soon ( n. hemisphere). At that time, be vigilant about cleaning up all the infected leaves and throwing them away, not into compost. Avoid nitrogen fertilizer at this time too, because excess nitrogen is what pathogens like, and you should not be promoting growth before a semi-dormant period.

They have huge root systems and really need to be in the ground, if not they need to be re-potted frequently. They need a 'dry' period before going deciduous/flowering, so if you water constantly you may need to adjust, as overwatering will promote fungal growth.

Anyway, Florida plant people should be quite familiar with this tree, so take advantage of your local knowledge base, as they will have more specific recommendations and better cultural knowledge that is relevant for your area.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:53 AM on January 29, 2012

This is also a good time to do some pruning of your tree - the rule of thumb is to remove no more than 10% (per year) for an unhealthy tree, no more than 30% (per year) for a healthy tree. Repotting the plant with new, more acidic soil will remove one source of the fungus and help your plant get healthy. Treatment with this product will help kill off any remaining fungus. A little light pruning, repotting in a larger pot with more acidic soil & treatment with a fungicide - that seems to be the ticket.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2012

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