Take the Water Out of the Log
May 14, 2012 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I greatly over watered my emerald green arborvitaes this season, so now the tops are drooping. How do I fix this, or don't I?

I planted the trees in the spring of 2011, and I watered them like crazy since they were newly transplanted (they were about 5 feet in height when I planted them). It worked out very well.

Then we had a very dry winter (upper Midwest) and a dry start to spring 2012, so the trees started turning brown in a hurry. Instead of letting nature do all the work subsequent to the planting year, I watered them just as I had the previous spring.

This started out very well--the trees went from browning to a beautiful, full, healthy green color, and they are growing rather quickly, as they should be after the initial planting year.

But, I was so excited that I continued to water them like crazy. So, now the top 8-10" of some of the trees (not all) droops or falls over.

How do I fix this? Do I just stop watering them and let nature take care of it and let them straighten out on their own? Or do I need to stake them until they recover? I have two cable TV lines running about 9 feet above ground that I could tie the tops to, or I could stake them from their centers with 1/4" plastic garden poles.

Even if they will always be droopy, that is fine with me, too, as long as they still achieve their full height over time. So, if the answer is that I will just have 12-foot trees with droopy tops, that is all I need to know.
posted by TinWhistle to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
I recommend you leave it alone and not water it for a few weeks to let the saturated soil do it's thing. The tree will will try and survive. Resume appropriate watering when you see the soil around it has stabilized. I also recommend calling your local library or even better if their is a local botanic garden that can give you information about appropriate watering in your area. Plants are survivors.
posted by i_wear_boots at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2012

Droopy tops may be because the overwatering caused them to grow too fast, or because they are wilting (this will happen when roots die in too wet situations, as well as drought stress). You should be watering them only when the top 2-3 inches of root ball dry out. Do not stop watering altogether, but water when soil conditions show you that you need to water. If they don't straighten up to your liking by the end of the summer you can cut the tops off. Thuja are hedged all the time, and will just continue to grow upward.

Also, never ever tie trees to infrastructure of any sort, unless it is specifically to hold up trees.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:43 PM on May 14, 2012

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