Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

I often feel that dealing with nature can be so much like dealing with our bodies. When someone comes to me with a plant problem, it can sometimes take a lot of questioning and discussion to figure out exactly what’s going on with the plant. Just as your doctor would do for you if you were to present a certain ailment, there could be some detective work done to find the cause of the plant’s ailment.

There has been a lot of detective work going on for years now with a mysterious tree problem. Sudden branch drop syndrome has baffled the experts for years, with still no definitive explanation for its cause. Any tree problem is alarming, but to have trees that appear to be healthy, suddenly have large or small limbs just fall to the ground is baffling.

This problem has been reported to be happening in other countries and to many types of trees. Arborists from other countries have been studying affected trees to find some kind of clues as to the cause, but consistent warning signs have yet to be found. Without a known cause, it is hard to treat or prevent this problem.

One theory as to the cause is high humidity within a tree canopy. High humidity can lead to excess moisture that could then weaken the tree’s structure.

For now, we need to reduce the risks associated with sudden branch drop syndrome in our trees. Be sure a trees root flare is sufficiently exposed. Provide regular feeding with organic fertilizers. Treat pest and disease problems at the first sign of either with an organic solution. Properly prune trees as needed. And last but not least, use healthy watering practices. This means not too much or not too little water. Water less often at a slow rate for longer periods of time to encourage a deep, healthy root system.

For now, the professionals will keep up their detective work, and we will do our best to keep all our trees as healthy as we can.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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(1) comment

Glenn Wilson

When that used to happen to our Mimosa tree about this time of year it was due to an insect that would select a limb and chew around and around the limb until it fell off. Application of a systemic insecticide along with an end-of-summer inspection seems to have stopped the problem.

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