Newly Planted Tree Leaves Turning Brown, Yellow or Wilting? Try…

Newly Planted Tree Leaves Turning Brown, Yellow or Wilting? Try…

Gently placed in its planting spot, sealed with soil and quenched with water–you can’t wait for your new tree to flourish!

But, after weeks of watching your tree soak in its brand-new life, you see... brown, yellow or wilted leaves?

When new trees have drooping or discolored leaves, there’s a problem. So, what can you do to help?


Why You’re Having Problems with Newly Planted Trees and What to Do

Adjusting to a new home is stressful for young trees. The sudden change in environment can lead to all sorts of problems, which is called transplant shock.

Transplant shock usually starts at the tree’s roots. Sometimes roots don’t have enough room to spread out or didn’t get enough water right after being planted. Whatever the case, trees wear their heart on their sleeve–or should we say their leaves. That’s why you see those wilted, yellow or brown leaves.

Is my newly planted tree dying?

You can often revive a shocked tree, but you’ll first need to make sure it’s alive and well.

  • Try bending a tree branch. If the tree’s dead, it will easily snap. Live tree twigs are nimble, so they’re flexible, bendable and much harder to break.
  • Or scratch a spot on the twig with your fingertip or a pocket knife. If the layer immediately under the bark is moist and bright green, the tree’s alive.

What to Do About Newly Planted Tree Leaves Wilting, Turning Yellow or Browning

Trees often suffer from transplant shock because their roots don’t have enough room to establish themselves.

Shocked trees also need a little TLC to get them back on track. Here are a few things you can try:

If those steps don’t appear to help your tree, consider replanting the tree in a larger hole. First, read this guide about transplanting trees. If you’re unsure if your tree needs moved, ask an arborist. Replanting your tree again could shock it once more.

Learn more about how to set your new tree up for success here!

  • Yazmine Sanchez October 10, 2017 >Thank you for all the hard work you have done
  • The Tree Doctor October 4, 2017 >Hi Sushil. Roots do require depth to exploit, but they grow horizontally in the top 4-6 inches of the soil. This could be a case of transplant shock, which can last 3-5 years after the tree is planted. So replanting the tree now may shock it even more. If a root flare is visible, then the tree was planted correctly. We suggest mulching under the dripline (avoid mulching up around the trunk of the base). If you need to water, use a soaker hose and turn the hose on enough to see water beads forming and let this soak for about an hour. Water until the top 6 inches of the soil are moist, but not saturated. Hope this helps, Sushil.
  • Sushil Kumar October 2, 2017 >I have transplanted a well grown casuarina tree 7 ft tall, but the Gardner planted it in a small shallow hole not giving roots enough room to spread. Since the tree is sensitive to overwatering, it has not responded well to frequent watering. Lot of those pines needles have shed and though new needles are sprouting, the old ones seem to be drooping and thinning. Should i replant the tree in a larger hole? Lot of small branches have withered and died. Please help.
  • The Tree Doctor August 28, 2017 >Hi Laurie! From the information you provided, it sounds like this could be transplant shock. Be sure to continue to water appropriately and add a mulch ring around the trees. Wait to see if the trees’ health improves over the next year. In rare cases, it can take a tree 3 years to bounce back from transplant shock. You may find this article helpful, Here if you have any other questions, Laurie.
  • Laurie Olmstead August 26, 2017 >Hello, A few days ago we were given two small (2ft,& 4ft) Catalpa trees a friend had dug up in her yard. The larger of the two was looking wilted before we even got home(20 min) we planted them and watered them very well, also using miracle grow. The small one is looking alright but the larger one the top is all wilted, can we save it somehow? Should we trim off the wilted areas?
  • The Tree Doctor August 10, 2017 >Hi Jimmy! That's certainly odd. Check if the tree is actually planted under the mulch first. There's a possibility the previous homeowners may have just put mulch over the root ball. If it's not planted properly, then you'll want to do just that. If you'd like, you can read these two blogs for more information on step-by-step tree planting and proper mulching: and Here if you have any other questions, Jimmy!
  • The Tree Doctor August 10, 2017 >Hi Mary Ann! If the branches are still green, this may be a case of transplant shock. The good news, though, is that trees usually rebound from this. Be sure you are watering the tree at least 3 times a week, at the base of the tree where the root ball is, for about 10-15 minutes. You can learn the proper techniques of watering in our blog post, Here if you have any other questions, Mary Ann.
  • Mary Ann Moore August 6, 2017 >We have two buckthorn trees , they look ok, but have some leaves that turn yellow and fall off , is this normal when first planted? And will they be ok , how often should I water them?
  • jimmy freeman August 4, 2017 >Our home i new and so is the white oak tree thats planted in the front yard. It has a lot of mulch around it but you can move it back and forth like its not even planted and the leaves are turning brown and falling off. Should i take all the mulch away and put some new soil around it?
  • The Tree Doctor July 6, 2017 >Hi Aigee. Oh no! Let's figure out what is going on. First, when did you plant the trees? What kind of fertilizer was used? If a slow release fertilizer was not used, sometimes this can harm the trees. If you scrape the twigs and they are green underneath, they are still alive! Mulching always helps and make sure you are watering properly. It is important during the first two years to give 15 to 20 gallons of water per week. Please contact us directly at With more info, we can provide more help. Thanks, Aigee.
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