Advice with Carolina Hornbeam during winter - is it dying or dead?

jostage

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Hi everyone,

I have a Carolina Hornbeam (I think it might be a variation of the American Hornbeam) and during the hot DC Summer I underwatered accidentally for a couple of days and all the leaves dried up and fell. I cut them all off (around August) and then the tree began to slowly recover growing a small amount of leaves. For the winter, starting about a month ago, I brought it inside. It dropped all of its new growth and has no leaves now. I am unsure if this means its dying or if it means that it has gone into dormancy. Some of the smaller branches seem dry but closer to the trunk they are a bit more flexible. I made a small scratch in the turnk and it looks like a very light brown. Do Hornbeams drop their leaves during winter? Is there a chance it will remain leaf-less until spring and yet still be alive?

Thanks for a any help!
 

Paradox

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Some pictures would help.

Yes they drop their leaves in the fall.
However, brown cambium when scratching the trunk is not a good sign. It should be green.

The tree should not be inside a house ir heated building for more than a few days unless it's at a show of some sort. It is an temperate tree that needs cold for dormancy. It does need winter protection from wind such as buried in mulch along the foundation of a house or in a unheated shed or garage.

It still needs water in winter but not as much as summer. If in a shed or garage, check it every few days and water when needed. Watering should always be when needed and not on a schedule.

Only thing you can do right now is provide it with winter protection and hope it wakes up in the spring.
 
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I agree with Paradox-Sandy. The brown cambium is not a go0d sign, but you will just have to wait until spring to be absolutely sure. In the meantime, there is no reason this tree should need to be brought indoors in the D.C. climate. It belongs outside. I live in Kentucky where it gets just a bit colder than D.C., and my American hornbeam stays outside year-round (it might have preferred a bit more shade in the heat of summer.) I winter mine more-or-less in the open, in a pathway between raised garden beds, and mulched with leaves or straw. Does just fine.

By the way, does anyone have any experience with defoliating these? I have had mine for for quite a few years, but have never tried it. I think it might result in less ratty-looking leaves in the Fall.
 

GrimLore

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Outside, outside, outside AND somewhere you remember to water it ;)

Grimmy
 

sorce

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Who's watching the back door!?

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

M. Frary

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Sounds dead to me. Hopefully I'm wrong.
But the sparse new growth after being dehydrated was probably the sign of a last ditch effort to save itself.
 

Zach Smith

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Hi everyone,

I have a Carolina Hornbeam (I think it might be a variation of the American Hornbeam) and during the hot DC Summer I underwatered accidentally for a couple of days and all the leaves dried up and fell. I cut them all off (around August) and then the tree began to slowly recover growing a small amount of leaves. For the winter, starting about a month ago, I brought it inside. It dropped all of its new growth and has no leaves now. I am unsure if this means its dying or if it means that it has gone into dormancy. Some of the smaller branches seem dry but closer to the trunk they are a bit more flexible. I made a small scratch in the turnk and it looks like a very light brown. Do Hornbeams drop their leaves during winter? Is there a chance it will remain leaf-less until spring and yet still be alive?

Thanks for a any help!
American hornbeam is called among other things Carolina hornbeam. The lack of water in summer clearly stressed the tree to the max, evidenced by the weak regrowth. When you brought it indoors, that was (I'm sorry to say) the coup de grace. Confirmed by the light brown when scratched. If it's not juicy green when scratched, it's a goner.

Zach
 

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