Download the graphic. Many young trees, especially young birch trees, very often suffer from what we now know, world wide, as "flowers disease."  People choose a tree as the perfect site for a spring garden.  We all have seen hundreds of bulbs and annuals planted around young trees.  We then see insect borers or twig dieback along with sun scold and frost cracks.  Most of the trees usually die.  During the planting of the flowers or bulbs they injure the roots and they usually heavily fertilize the plants.  Even more injurious each year is cultivating the soil around the tree.  The only treatment is to be on guard and keep the trees well watered while removing dying wood properly.  One alternative is to bring in an old rotten log and place this log under the tree.  The old rotten logs act as big sponges and thus being a moisture reserve for the tree during extensive dry spells.  They will cultivate no soil and microorganisms take winter vacations in the logs.  Then plant ferns or flowers within the log.  ONLY FERTILIZE WITH ORGANIC FERTILIZER IF NECESSARY.  Note: Choosing flowers that would do well in the shade would be wise if the area is shaded.

When watering, water away from trunk and just enough to moisten the non-woody roots.  Do not over water.  On newly planted trees, please water the root ball area well 2 times.  Do not make a well.  After two good waterings then water away from trunk so roots grow outward.  Making a well would be like planting the tree in a pot.

Diagrams from The Desk of John A. Keslick Jr.

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John A. Keslick, Jr.
Tree Biologist

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