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Wedding cake tree looking poorly

Our wedding cake tree (planted in the garden about twenty years ago) has always been so beautiful.  This year, however, the early leaves which are generally a very fresh green, were subdued, and the leaves have appeared looking curled and some dead around the edges. Now it should have beautiful frothy “flowers” (I know they are leaves really) but most of these are black and dead. There is some fresh growth near the main trunk, shown in the picture with the trunk, which at the moment looks slightly better. As far as I am aware, the tree hasn’t been stressed, too dry, too wet, and nothing unusual has happened recently. The only one thing that I can think of, is an enthusiastic garden helper did put some of the leftover tomato feed (diluted as normal) around the base some weeks ago. Could this have caused the effect?


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    I suspect it's yet another tree affected by last year's hot dry period and didn't get enough water at a critical time which is usually late summer/autumn for spring flowering trees and shrubs as they are forming next year's flower buds at that time.  Together with the very early warm spell this year, lots of things alsp started too early and were damaged by later frosts, blackened growth tips being a common symptom.  We've had lots of similar reports for all sorts of trees and shrubs this spring and I have several affected in my garden.  I don't think you need to worry about the tomorite being the cause.   Weedkillers might have that affect though - are the plants or grass underneath looking healthy?
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Hello. Thank you for your reply. Feeling slightly better for it! The rest of the plants seem fine. Bizarrely my camellias are the best they’ve ever been. The lawn was spot treated in three places two months ago. Very small areas and the closest was 15 foot away from the tree. Hopefully not the cause but I’ve read elsewhere as well today about how sensitive this tree might be to weed killer. I will watch and see how things go. Thank you. 
  • HelixHelix Posts: 631
    edited May 2019
    Doesn’t look that much different from ours.  It was doing well until last Saturday when we had a particularly cold wind from the north, and now looks fairly fried.

    It happened two years ago in a similar way, and that year we lost a bit of growth, but it recovered overall. 

  • Thanks Helix. Hopefully will restore itself for next year. It’s usually the most beautiful thing in the garden at this time of year and would hate to lose it. 
  • NikkersNikkers Posts: 1
    I don’t have black on my tree but it’s all gone droopy. I’m watering it well, and it’s in the right spot, sunny to shady in a pot. Does anyone know why it’s so droopy please?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    edited 4 June
    Pots aren't really suitable long term for these shrubs/trees, not without a lot of care, and the pot would have to be massive for the root system, and therefore the top,  to stay well enough hydrated.
    They want to be very, very large specimens. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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