My mother-in-law has a 15 year old crimson king maple that was transplanted to another part of her yard in October, 2006. Her location is south central Michigan, about 50 miles north of the Indiana and Ohio state lines. My wife and I kept the tree well watered last summer and so far this year there has been plenty of rain. The tree is 7 inches across at the base of the trunk and 5 inches across at about 6 feet up the trunk. The problem is that the leaves are only about 1/4 to 1/2 the size they were before transplantation. They do not appear to be deseased at all. Does the tree need to be fertilized and if so, what kind of fertilizer should be used? Or is it possible that the tree will just take a few years to recover from transplantation shock. Any help you can give me will be much appreciated.
A trees roots span out about 1 1/2 the with of the foliage and when a tree this size is moved a large amount of the root system is cut. It is going to take it a few years to re grow the roots to support the foliage it once had. In the mean time the roots there can not grow the same amount of foliage so the leaves are smaller and the crown is not as full. I would fertilize the tree with 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 lb per inch of trunk diameter scattered around the tree and watered in good. This will encourage root growth and as the roots grow the foliage will also grow back to normal. I would wait until the Fall to fertilize. Make sure you do not use a lawn fertilizer called Weed and Feed these contain herbicides that will kill the tree. The tree needs about 1 inch of water per week=place a pan under the tree and turn the sprinkler on and when the pan has 1 inch in it stop. Do this if it does not rain for a while. This is called deep watering and will encourage the root growth.