Oct 4, 2012 – A Tree Hated The Change


A healthy, green, flower-bearing desert willow went into severe, immediate transplant shock when re-planted. I suspect I added too much steer manure and salt which caused the problem and I am watering generously to combat. Any suggestions?


I suppose there could be several reasons why a tree or shrub does not survive when transplanted, and in your case I am assuming you are referring to a new tree that you purchased and then removed from its container and placed into the ground, rather than moving an existing tree from one area to another. Sometimes it can be caused by improper planting by not tearing apart the root ball a bit to loosen the compacted roots. However, this should not result in an immediate reaction. Sometimes it can be improper watering - too much or too little, depending on the kind of plant. Some folks "love" their plants to death by over-watering and drowning the plant, as the roots do need oxygen and often need to dry out between waterings. 

Animal manures make excellent fertilizer, but it needs to be properly composted first to break down the nitrogen content a bit. Chicken manure is a good example, where chicken ranches spend awhile allowing the manure to compost well or it will have too hot of a nitrogen content and will burn plants. Steer manure is less like this, but still needs to have time to break down some of its contents. Apparently steer manure is notorious for its high salt content, and somehow even a much higher level of salt than simple "cow" manure, and where salt licks are made available this can affect that salt level as well. Since you are in Arizona perhaps the local source for this product does produce a manure with an unusually high level of salt, and this could well have caused some rapid effect on the foliage. 

Flooding to leach out the salt is probably your only recourse, and may take awhile and will take repeated efforts of flooding, drying, flooding again. You cannot "neutralize" the salt, but can put it back into solution to wash it away. Perhaps, since this tree was only recently planted, you could remove it, remove the soil from that area, and re-plant with new, fresh soil without all the manure. There also are certain kinds of plants that will actually suck up the salt in soil, as these plants are adapted to living in salty conditions. Your local nursery may be able to offer some thoughts on what these plants are and you could consider planting them around the tree for awhile. 

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