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Live Oak Dying?

My wife and I recently purchased a new home in Fernandina Beach Florida in October.  The house came with a Live Oak that was planted in September.  Since then I have noticed the leaves turning from a dark green color (when first planted) to a light green and then brown.  They have also been falling off from the bottom of the tree up.  I have also notice that many other trees planted at the same time have been thinning out significantly as well.  Some of the smaller branches are dead and breaking off.  I also have what seem to be hornets or wasps flying around at the top of the tree.  My tree is approximately 15 feet tall and around 6-8 inches in diameter.  I have been deep watering the tree once a week and have been checking the ground to ensure it is still moist so I don't think it is a watering issue.  The "Builder" said I should fertilize it.  I'm not sure if this is the answer either.  It is my understanding that Live Oaks don't lose their leaves in my area of the country and there are many healthy Live Oaks around that are still full of their leaves.  Could Oak Wilt be destroying my tree or is it just transplant shock?  Please help me shed some light on this; I don't want to lose the tree if I don't have to.  Thanks.


My first thought is a bad planting job or the tree were dead or dying when they were planted. September is not the best time to plant a tree especially one this large Check and see if the trees are still alive--start near the end of a top outer branch and scrape a small bit of bark off. If the color under the bark is green the branch is still alive at this point on the branch. If the color is not green (brown) the branch is dead at this point on the branch. If brown continue down the branch until you find green or you reach the main trunk. If you do not find any green try other branches. When you find green stop.

If there is green then the tree is still alive --you can either wait until next spring and see where the new growth is and prune the dead branches off or prune the dead off now.

But it sounds like the tree need to be replaced since they are dead or dying. Do not fertilize this will burn the already damaged root systems. Normally newly planted trees should not be fertilized the first year of planting.

Here is the proper method of planting a tree.
Dig the hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep and fill with good top soil or potting soil. Remove all the wire and burlap from the root ball before the tree is put into the hole. Mulch around the tree with not more than 3 inches deep of organic mulch not piled up on the trunk.

It is not oak wilt and more than likely not a disease but other problems like letting the root ball dry out before it was planted, not removing the burlap or wire, poor planting job. Most new trees are guaranteed for the first year so I would have the contractor replant new trees.

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