There are various reasons why your Jujube tree might be dying, heat being just one of them. Other possible causes include under-watering, over-watering, disease, lack of nutrients, or stress which can be caused by rapid temperature changes or transplant shock. Here we will be looking into how to revive a dying jujube tree from heat and how to deal with a variety of other potential causes.
What You'll Learn Today
- Why Is My Jujube Plant Dying?
- Why Are My Jujube Leaves Turning Yellow?
- How To Revive My Dying JuJube Tree?
Why Is My Jujube Plant Dying?
First, you need to ascertain the most likely cause that your tree is dying, so you can apply the right solution.
Luckily, once you start to notice your tree isn’t looking too great, you generally have a few weeks or even months before it will die completely, depending on the cause of the problem.
Although pinpointing the exact issue can sometimes be difficult, it’s just a process of elimination.
1. Is My Jujube Alive or Dead?
Start by making sure your Jujube tree is still alive. To do this, simply scratch off some of the bark on a small branch. If it’s green inside, then it’s still holding on. If there is no green in the branch, move on to another and try again.
If you can’t find green on any of the branches you try, then you may be too late.
2. Too Much or Too Little Water
Under watering and over watering can both cause problems. It may lead to leaves, flowers, or fruit dropping off and the tree starting to die.
Testing the soil for moisture is pretty simple. Make a small hole the depth of your index finger 12 inches to two feet away from the trunk of the tree, and feel how moist the soil is. If it’s bone dry then the tree needs watering, if the hole fills with water, or is very wet to the touch, then you may be over-watering.
To help maintain water in dryer conditions and in fast-draining soil, regularly apply lots of organic mulch around the tree, keeping it topped up to around two inches deep. Things like grass clippings, or aged bark chippings are ideal for this.
Always keep a gap of two to three inches between the mulch and the trunk of the tree to avoid mold problems.
If you didn’t improve your fast-draining soil prior to planting your tree, you may be able to carefully add some well-rotted compost, but practically speaking, it’s going to be pretty tricky. Over time mulch will improve the soil, but it can take several years.
It’s best not to use fresh wood chippings for mulching as they pull nitrogen from the surface soil. Once wood chips have aged for a few months, then they can be used without issue, and, as they decompose slowly, are often a better long-term solution compared to other softer mulches.
Ensure you water regularly, depending on the weather, and test the soil dampness every few days to ensure things are looking good.
Over watering can sometimes be even trickier to remedy than under-watering. If, for example, it isn’t being caused by you physically applying water, but rather by wet weather conditions and heavy soil.
If your tree has become waterlogged over the winter and the roots have rotted and become starved of oxygen, then your chances of saving it are far less.
If it’s a young tree that you only planted the previous year, you may be able to dig it up and replant it somewhere where you have improved the soil, so it has better drainage. This should only be done as a last resort. When replanting, ensure you add plenty of good quality compost or high humus soil to improve drainage.
Never be tempted to add sand to clay soil, as it won’t fix the problem. It just makes the soil act more like concrete.
Keep in mind that by only improving the soil in the hole that you dig for the tree, you may not actually fix the problem. When it next rains heavily again, the chances are the surrounding soil you didn’t add improvements to will again become waterlogged, and the hole you dug will fill with water like a swimming pool drowning your tree.
An alternative is to plant the tree in a mound you make from good-quality soil. This will provide the young roots with nutrients without allowing them to become waterlogged.
Another option is to use a large pot. Potted jujube trees can do well, but careful attention must be paid to water and feeding them correctly.
Watering can be tricky because of the number of variables such as weather conditions, soil type, age of the tree, and so on. That’s why testing the soil regularly is the best solution. Always check before watering and adjust the amount of water you give accordingly.
3. Jujube Tree Transplanting
When you plant your Jujube tree, it can suffer from something called transplant shock. The leaves start to droop and eventually fall off. The reason for this is that the root ball has been disturbed or damaged too much while you were moving the tree to its new home.
The best way of avoiding transplant shock is by transplanting the tree while it is in its dormant winter state and ensuring the roots are kept as undisturbed as possible.
Damage to the taproot can cause the tree to take several years to recover, and the tree may end up being stunted or even die.
Transplant shock is often more severe in older trees. Young trees of a year or less don’t seem to suffer so much and recover sooner.
Transplant shock can happen if you move a tree from a pot and put it into the ground, or from one pot to another, or by digging it up and moving it someplace else. The latter is the most likely to cause problems.
This is because once a tree is planted in the soil and not in a pot, it will root far more deeply, and the likelihood of you damaging the roots when digging it up are a lot higher.
Transplant shock can affect all kinds of trees, not just Jujube.
It’s important to grow your Jujube tree in a climate suitable for it to flourish. This is in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 11 as Jujube are heat lovers, and the fruit with only a small number of winter chill hours. They are able to survive surprisingly cold temperatures too, as low as -28°F for short periods.
You may well be in a suitable hardiness zone and have every expectation that your Jujube will do well. The problem is that we can’t control the weather, and just because the mercury isn’t meant to go above 100°F for weeks on end, doesn’t mean that it won’t.
Nor is it guaranteed that just because you live in hardiness zone 6, that the winter chill won’t drop below -30°F. Unfortunately, the weather is rather unpredictable these days. Just because the weather is meant to stay within a specific range doesn’t mean it will.
What To Do When It Gets Hot
If a heatwave is forecast, or if you live somewhere where the summer temperatures are very high, there are a few things you can do to help protect your Jujube tree.
- Apply a thick layer of organic mulch at least two inches in depth, but remember to leave an air gap around the trunk of about 3 inches. This will hold moisture in and help the roots of the tree stay cool. The mulch should span outwards to the same distance as the canopy of the tree.
- Give your Jujube some shade. In the heat of the afternoon sun, put up a sun shade. This can be an umbrella or a shade sail.
- If your Jujube is growing in a pot, bring it indoors when a heat wave hits. You’ll need to do this carefully and gradually to avoid stressing it too much with a sudden temperature change.
- Water deeply and check the ground’s moisture level frequently.
- Never plant a Jujube when it’s really hot. The best time to put in your new tree is in the early spring, so there is plenty of rain and the temperatures will be mild. Because the tree will shortly be coming into its growth stage, it will adapt more readily to its new environment.
What To Do When It Gets Cold
Taking some precautions if things are going to get seriously cold could help save your tree too.
- Mulch, just as in the heat, can be highly beneficial when it gets cold. Mulch will help protect the roots from freezing.
- Sometimes the tree may start to bud up early in a mild spring, only to have all the new growth killed by a late frost. If you’re concerned about this, you can put a tree fleece over the Jujube to protect it from any late frost.
- Don’t plant trees when temperatures are freezing, or prune them if it is frosty.
5. Nutrients Are Essential For Your Jujube Tree
Just like us, trees need food to grow strong and healthy. They do this by taking up nutrients from the soil with their roots and by using the process of photosynthesis with their leaves providing them with energy.
In early spring, applying some slow-release, balanced 10:10:10 Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer around the tree can be beneficial.
There is a wide range of other mineral nutrients that will also benefit the tree, and these can be found in any high-quality fruit tree fertilizer.
You can also opt for the natural approach and apply well-rotted compost around the tree. As it rots down further, it naturally releases nutrients into the surrounding soil.
Without the right nutrients, you’ll soon start noticing problems with your tree. The leaves are usually the first sign as they begin to yellow, wilt, and drop off. If the issue isn’t addressed, the tree can die.
6. pH And Your Jujube Tree
Soil has a pH that falls somewhere between acidic and alkaline. pH can be affected by the type of bedrock in the area, contamination from water runoff, contamination by rain that has been made acidic from factory gasses being released into the air, organic matter, erosion, and fertilizers.
Jujube trees tolerate a soil pH of between 4.5 to 8.4, which is a very broad range with a median value of around 6.5 being ideal. They are also salt tolerant, so they can be grown in coastal areas.
If your pH is even more acid or alkaline than the parameters given, then it will have an effect on your tree. You can add wood ash or charcoal to increase alkalinity, while coffee grounds or peat moss will increase acidity.
Soil pH can be tested with an easy-to-buy soil testing kit.
In this video, you will see how to test your soil pH with a test kit:
7. Jujube Tree Disease and Pests
There are various diseases and pests that can cause a Jujube tree to become sick.
Unfortunately, fungi and not a “fun guy” and can cause a multitude of problems for your jujube tree. The fruits in particular are susceptible to attack from fungus because they are soft and sugary and have a high moisture content.
These are made worse by heavy rain and high humidity which may result in the fruits cracking and becoming exposed to the fungal spores in the air.
Controlling fungal problems can be difficult, particularly as fungicides can become ineffective over time. Instead remove and dispose of any affected fruits, leaves, or branches and only use chemical products when absolutely necessary.
These small, sticky bugs appear in clusters on the underside of leaves and suck the sap from the plant. The leaves turn yellow, curl up and die before falling off.
They can be a variety of colors including black, yellow, or white. Treat by giving the affected leaves a blast of water, applying neem oil, or getting some ladybugs.
In March tent caterpillars, which are North American native caterpillars, start hatching. They can be a pest on your fruit trees, as they like to munch on all of the fresh, young leaves.
A natural method of eradication is parasitic wasps, or you can also use pesticides.
Left untreated they will eat the leaves, nest, and overwhelm the Jujube tree. They can almost completely defoliate a tree.
Why Are My Jujube Leaves Turning Yellow?
The most probable causes for Jujube tree leaves to be turning yellow are plant dehydration, mineral deficiency, or herbicide uptake.
Start by ensuring the tree is receiving sufficient regular water. If after a couple of weeks the leaves are still turning yellow try finding a good fertilizer that has iron, manganese, and magnesium in the ingredients and use it according to the packet instructions.
Apply organic mulch around the tree which will help over a prolonged period with water retention, weed control and act as a slow-release fertilizer.
Another potential issue can be poor draining soil or poor soil pH. These will need to be amended in order to help the tree recover.
How To Revive My Dying JuJube Tree?
Start by identifying the potential cause of the problem. Write down the symptoms and by process of elimination work out what the issue is. If you need more help search online to see what problems match them the closest.
As a last resort, you can always take a cut-off branch to your local nursery for their opinion.
Lack of water is more often than not the problem, so rectify it by watering the Jujube tree deeply every few days and see what happens. Do check the soil moisture content first however!
If the tree is still alive (green showing just below the bark) then usually it can still be saved.
It will all depend on what the exact problem is and if that issue can be resolved in time.
- Mulch your Jujube tree
- Ensure the tree is receiving enough sunlight
- In heavy ground, plant on a mound of good quality soil
- Plant trees when dormant in early spring
- Cut out any diseased or dead wood and burn it if possible to prevent further contamination
- Ensure the tree has enough space and isn’t too tightly packed with other plants or trees
- Check the moisture content of the soil around the tree often and water accordingly
It’s always worth trying to save your Jujube tree if there are still signs of life. If all the green color has gone from under the bark then it may be too late to save the tree and it will need replacing.
Before you replace it, try to work out what caused it to die, so you can prevent the same problem from happening again.
We have other helpful articles about the Jujube tree and much more on our website.