Monday, July 13, 2009

Problems with Royal Poinciana

I live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and have recently planted a royal poinciana tree in my back yard. A little history: I got the tree in February as a local nursery was going out of business. It was about 12 feet tall and was in a 3 foot pot. Unfortunately there was a record cold spell the week I bought it. I put it in the ground after the cold snap was over and when I did tried to loosen the roots as much as possible. There was no foliage on the tree when I got it but as the weather warmed it started to grow leaves and some small branches. I even got 4-5 little flowers to bloom last month. However, all the new growth has seemed to come to a stop and the leaves look wilted and a starting to look brown. Also, the base of the tree has turned blackish in color (I don't notice any bugs or growths). I am concerned because last month my cat put a hole in my lanai screen and was getting outside for a while. He started using the base of the tree as his "potty." It didn't occur to me at first the it was anything more than a nuisance but I did fix the hole and get him back inside. We had 2 weeks straight of rain after that and I've been trying to water the tree thoroughly since but now I'm concerned that the cat pee might have damaged the tree. Does that sound like the case? Could it just be transplant shock? Lack of water? (we're still in the dry season other than that 2 week fluke) too much water from watering? or prior frost or root damage? Is there anything else I can do or do I just need to wait and see what happens. I like this tree and would be sad to lose it. Thanks!

- Jessica

Anne's Response:

Cold weather and drought could put a plant under stress. The symptoms seem to be consistent with root rot which could come from poor drainage and/or a fungal root rot disease. Two fungi cause problems on Poinciana: Clitocybe tabescens and Phymatotrichum omnivorum.Clitocybe is often a problem with plants in Florida. You may want to check with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension specialists for further information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For threee years my Royal Poinciana was growing at an unbelievable rate.after our last cold snap it produced very small branches (1/4").The base keeps throwing off suckers but the top wont grow. I have trimmed the branches back and it gets plenty of fertilizer and water with sufficient drainage