Nothing is more frustrating than putting a lot of hard work and spending tons of time caring for landscape plants, only to have them succumb to some kind of disease or pest. If your plant is looking a little sickly, here are some common symptoms to look for to help you diagnose the problem, along with fairly simple solutions.
Is your plant wilting? Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is lack of water. If you have ruled out your plant being thirsty, there are a number of other problems that can cause wilting. The reality is over watering can also make leaves wilt, because the roots are rotting. Make sure your plant is not getting too much water. The soil needs to dry out in between waterings so the roots can obtain oxygen.
Depending on where you live, you may have a form of root rot caused by pathogens in the soil. For example, Texas Root Rot is prevalent in the southwest, and causes significant root loss in short order. By the time you see wilting, it is dead. Plant resistant species, but never in the same spot. Which plants succumb to Texas Root Rot? Here’s a sampling:
All stone fruit trees (peaches, plums and apricots)
All nut trees
Notice not one of those is a desert native.
Some insects can cause wilting as they water out of the leaves. Look on underneath leaves for sucking insects like aphids and mites. If you see them, spray off with the garden hose. No chemicals needed.
What about leaf color changes that aren’t normal for the species? Are the leaves turning yellow? In some cases, this could be nitrogen deficiency. Planting natives usually means fertilizer is rarely warranted since they are adapted to the soil. If the plant is not a desert native, and the leaves are yellow with green veins, this is a sign of iron chlorosis, caused by a deficiency of iron in the soil, or by high pH soils. Soils with high alkalinity prevent the absorption of iron. Treating is expensive and labor intensive. Better to choose plants that grow in alkaline soils. Also keep in mind, that early leaf coloration is often caused by drought. Stick with desert natives with low water use requirements.
Is your plant just sitting there and not growing? One of the deadliest thing that can happen to your new tree is planting too deep. If the planting hole was dug deeper than the rootball, chances are it sunk into the hole and dirt has gathered around the trunk. You can try removing soil that is up against the trunk base. This might work, and worth a try.
Many times plant problems arise because the species is not suitable for our desert climate and soils. Choosing desert native plants is a smart way to avoid many problems and have greater success with minimal effort.