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Weeping Willow Tree Dropping Leaves

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by jjbrown6818, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. jjbrown6818

    jjbrown6818 New Member

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    I have three weeping willow trees. Two are younger (smaller) and one is larger. The large tree seems to be dropping leaves. Quite a lot of leaves. The two smaller trees lose leave also but not to the same extent. The trees never seem to be bare but it drops leaves nearly consistantly. I don't know why. They all lose leaves in the fall following the first hard frost. Yes it frosts here too. I live in the high desert of California. The wind blows here almost constantly, sometime they are high winds. I did notice that the leaves started to fall off reguarly when the temperature reached the mid to upper 90s for a few days. Unfortunately that is normal here too. I water (not flood) the lawn everyday for 10-15 minutes each time 4 times a day. This has been the case since I bought the house. The trees were put in in 1989ish. The trees seem health and I had them pruned last year. They filled in nicely and are full. I don't have any dead limbs. I did before pruning but now all limbs are covered with leaves. Why are the leaves dropping? I asked one local tree trimmer/arborist and he had no reason. I am cleaning up constantly and this is getting frustrating.
     
  2. Pete M

    Pete M ArboristSite Operative

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    Think it's normal. I do bi-weekly maintenance for someone with a willow. Nearly every single time I'm having to rake up heaps of leaves and sticks, yet the tree is very big and healthy.
     
  3. jjbrown6818

    jjbrown6818 New Member

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    Thanks

    Thanks Pete. While I figured it was normal I wondered how a tree could drop so many leaves and yet continue to thrive. I didn't know they were so messy.
     
  4. Ed Roland

    Ed Roland Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Willows (Salix species) are susceptible to Melampsora epitea in the Midwest. I am not sure if it is in your area.


    Sounds like abiotic damage. Wind/air moving across the leaf surface will increase transpiration. This is part of the sink/source relationship between the roots taking up water and the leaves expelling water vapor. Combine constant wind with high heat and you have a plant that is THIRSTY. In an effort to conserve water, the plant will drop the leaves.

    Try increasing the irrigation to this tree with deep waterings. Make sure the buttress flare is exposed and mulch @ 3-4" all the way to the drip line. Resist fertilizing.
     
  5. S Mc

    S Mc Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Willows are creek trees. Not only do they like high ground moisture content but air humidity as well. From what I hear, California is in a state-wide drought so this is something you may have to contend with for some time. Also the effects the tree is experiencing now may show up down the road so if you have some die back in the future you may want to try to remember the stress your tree is undergoing now.

    Trees have an incredible ability to self-regulate, they put on leaf surface when they can and shed the excess when climatic conditions cannot maintain them. And your situation sounds like this is the trees' reaction to
    climatic conditions (as previously pointed out).

    Also willows are high maintenance. They are what I refer to as self-pruning. An excellent field tree where your horses and/or cattle clean up the mess for you but maybe not so great in a landscaped yard. So they will be a constant source of exercise for you. If this isn't an acceptable circumstance, you may want to consider getting a replacement tree started that is more appropriate for your situation.

    If you have grass growing up to the base seriously consider getting rid of it and putting in organic mulch out to the drip line. This will help maintain the moisture for the trees and provide an excellent nutrient-cycling medium.

    Another benefit to mulching is that it will help cut down on your maintenance/leaf raking. All those leaves that fall can stay right there to decompose and put nutrients back in the soil for the trees' benefit.


    Sylvia
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  6. buzz sawyer

    buzz sawyer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have three willows and they start dropping leaves every year about mid-July.
     
  7. Sprig

    Sprig Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Agree wholeheartedly except for the high maintenance, the main work involved is dealing with the debris not the trees themselves unless you're trying to shape 'em, with the exception of yard trees. They can be cut back near to death and still thrive, and often are hard to controll as they love to spread, I have witnessed this many times. They are however what I call a 'wet tree', love water, so you are right on with the mulching, this will help keep moisture in the ground and it sounds like the OP is in a very hot and dry area, ergo the leaf loss. there are many plants that will drop leaves to lower water consumption during dry periods, often when the water is back the branches will again form leaves. Obviously if the branch totally dies it won't do this. I think you're right on about leaving the leaves with the mulch, no harm there as long as you remember not to pile them up against the trunk which could lead to various rot and bug problems.
    I am far from a pro but this is my opinion based on dealing with a couple of these beautiful trees over the years and the experiences of my neighbours as well.
    And before anyone asks again, its fairly crappy firewood and takes forever to cure to usable standards, however I have seen some nice things carved from it.

    :cheers:

    Serge
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  8. M.D. Vaden

    M.D. Vaden Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd imagine that each year varies, but at the country clubs I used to work at, there were times in summer when the willows would drop leaves, similar to how Benjamin figs can drop leaves.

    Laurel and magnolia do it too.
     

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