Diseases of garden plants
Flowers - Annuals
Flowers - Perennials
Native Plant gardening
|Can you treat evergreen trees so they will not produce pine cones? Marcenne, Vaughn|
|Hello, Marcenne: Plants that produce pine cones are considered conifers. This group of plants is known as gymnosperms. These woody plants are most commonly evergreen trees but there are some smaller shrubs as well. The cones they produce are actually organs necessary for reproduction. The female cones contain seeds inside of them. The males cones produce pollen and are usually much smaller than the female cones. When the cones become mature they fall off and break open or break down, allowing the seeds inside to be dispersed either by wind or sometimes birds, depending on the species. So, to answer your question, there is nothing you can spray or treat your plants with to make them not produce cones. This is their survival tactic and unless the tree or shrub is no longer living it will continue to produce cones. For the home gardener this can become a maintenance issue, but nothing a rake and a little time won’t cure. You can give them to your friends for holiday decoration or cover them with peanut butter and seeds for the birds to enjoy!|
|I am interested in both the Grey Owl juniper and the Vanderwolf's Pyramid Limber pine featured in the January issue of Kentucky Living. Can you tell me where these might be found in our area? I would be glad to go to Louisville. Also, our soil around our home is pretty heavy clay. Would it help to amend the soil or would I just be wasting my time and money and probably lose the plants anyway? Billie, Big Spring|
|Hello, Billie in Kentucky: ‘Grey Owl’ is one of the more common cultivars of Juniperus virginiana and should be fairly easy to locate. You can try your local garden centers or nurseries for this juniper, but the Pinus flexilis ’Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ may not be as easy to find. If you do not mind driving to Louisville, The Plant Kingdom on Westport Road does carry this evergreen and would be happy to hold one for you if would like. You can reach them at (502) 893-7333. You might also check with the garden centers in your area to see if they can order one for you. Sometimes the smaller stores can order in smaller quantities and if this is not a plant that they usually keep in stock, they may be able to special order one for you. As for amending your soil, it is always a good idea when it comes to dealing with compacted clay. Permatill is a product made of expanded slate; it helps to break up the clay and improve the drainage, allowing for better air circulation within the soil. This is essential for long-term plant health. Adding compost may be beneficial as well. You can always have your soil tested for nutrient levels through your County Cooperative Extension Service. Before purchasing your plants, make sure you have ample space in the garden for them to mature and a place for each where they will receive plenty of sunshine.|
|I bought a thread leaf shrub and it had a limb come off the main trunk that had the appearance and needles of a leyland cypress. Is this normal or did it come below the graft or are these plants grafted? Joe, Jasper|
|Hello, Jim in Tennessee: I assume that when you say thread leaf shrub you are referring to a Chamaecyparis, commonly known as false cypress among these conifers; there are a few different species but hundreds of named cultivars. This group of plants is pretty diverse and mostly native to Japan. The most common landscape plants are known for their chartreuse-like color. Some of the dwarf cultivars are grafted onto superior rootstock and some are successfully grafted onto other genus, including Thuja. There are Chamaecyparis that are crossed with Cupressocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress) to increase their adaptations to certain growing conditions. Do you know which Chamaecyparis you are growing? You may also have seen the juvenile growth as opposed to the adult foliage. Many members of this family have growth that has different characteristics determined by age. The younger growth, depending on the Chamaecyparis that you are growing, may be more needle-like in appearance than the mature foliage.|
|I have 10 'Golden Mop' border plants. They seem to be dying: the leaves are horribly brown and dry. What is it and what can I do? Tamara, Augusta|
|Hello, Tamara: Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’ is a sun-loving evergreen. Unfortunately, from what you have described it does not sound promising for your plants. Oftentimes when our evergreens turn brown there is little we can do to help save them. There are a number of possibilities why this is happening, but not knowing any of the conditions that yours are growing in I can only speculate. Typically when evergreens fail it is due to lack of sunlight and/or inconsistent moisture. These plants demand a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day. They need to be planted in well-drained soil because root rot can be a problem, but they usually they have no major insect problems. You can take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service. The horticulture agent will be able to analyze your sample and give you a more specific answer. Their Web site is: hampshire.ext.wvu.edu/hampshire_county_extension and their phone number is (302) 822-5013. If these are new plantings, you may check with the garden center/nursery that you purchased them from to inquire about their guarantee policy.|
|I have 30 15-year-old Leland cypress whose outside tips have turned brown. The insides also look terrible and have turned a darker color. Am I going to lose these trees? It will cost a fortune to take them down, plus the fact I planted for privacy. What should I do? I really can't afford to hire a tree surgeon to remove the dead branches from 30 huge trees. Celina, Calhoun|
|Hi, Celina: I cannot say for certain what is going on with your Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) without seeing them but there is certainly reason to be concerned. It is perfectly normal for the inner foliage to turn brown and drop this time of the year but we do not want to see the outer branches turning brown as well. Unfortunately, once these evergreens start to discolor it is sometimes too late to save them. These fast-growing evergreens are ideal for a privacy screen in your part of the country but unfortunately they are prone to bagworms and various fungal diseases, especially if they are not given ideal condition in which to grow. They should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil. Root rot can be a problem if the plants are exposed to too much moisture. Your evergreens are obviously well-established plantings and have been happy for many years so it would not make sense that the growing conditions would be the issue. As far as saving them the first step is to find out exactly what is going on. You can take a sample of the foliage to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis. The horticulture agent will be able to tell you what is going on with your trees or you can have a certified arborist come out and take a look at your trees. The Extension office will be able to give you recommendations for certified arborists in your area. The Gordon County Web site is http://extension.uga.edu/about/county/county.cfm?pk_id=239
or you can contact them at (706) 629-8685.
|I have a hillside of junipers with a blue rug on the outside and taller ones in the center. They are 8 years old. The center ones are brown and dying: any suggestions?
|Hello, Beverly in Kentucky: There could be a few different reasons why the junipers in the center are not happy. It has been such a hot and dry summer that even established plantings can require supplemental water when Mother Nature does not provide enough rainfall. Junipers require full sun, meaning they need a minimum of six hours of direct light to thrive. If they are not getting enough light they will become stressed and are more prone to insect and disease issues. There are many species of juniper and some are more disease-resistant than others, but spider mites are a very common problem. We usually notice the symptoms before we notice the tiny mites. Look for webbing along the branches. When we see yellow/brown foliage on evergreens it is usually on the inner part of the plant. This is a normal shedding process they go through each year, allowing more room for new growth. Are the evergreens brown just in the center or are they brown throughout the plant? If the latter is true, it does not sound good. Unfortunately, once evergreens turn brown it is usually too late to help them. They typically do not put on any new growth to replace the dead. If the majority of the plant is brown, they should be removed. Otherwise you should take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service. The horticulture agent will be able to give you a more definitive diagnosis and treatment options to help save your junipers.|
|I have a Leyland cypress that is potted. I bought it when it was nearly 4 ft. and now it is about 7 ft. The pot I have it in is large enough for the tree right now. I need help to move it. My question is, within the last month I have noticed some of the branches near the stalk are taking on a yellowish color and I have found one of the branches actually has turned yellowish and brittle. Could this be a watering issue? If so, I'll take a core sample from the pot to see what the moisture level is. While in the pot, should it be semi-moist in the bottom? Shelli, Enid|
|Hi, Shelli: Thank you for your question regarding your Leyland cypress. If it is just one branch that has turned yellow and brittle, I would not be too concerned. If it seems to become more widespread there might be something else going on, but for now just remove the dead foliage and keep an eye on it. It is normal for these evergreens to shed some of their inner foliage this time of year. They are such fast growers that they have to drop some of their foliage in order to put on new growth. I do not think it is a watering issue. Evergreens in containers will need more moisture than they would if they were planted in the ground, so make sure the soil does not go bone dry. Depending on the weather, you may need to water your cypress every other day during the hot summer months. A thin layer of mulch on top of the soil will help retain the moisture. The best way to test for soil moisture is to stick your finger down at least 1 inch into the soil. If it is dry then go ahead and water, but if it is still moist wait another day. Make sure the container it is planted in has plenty of drainage holes.|
|I have a Schipkaensis laurel (4); this spring, they look like they have dried up or burned. What can be done to save them? Anne, Blairstown|
|Hello, Anne: Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’ is a shade-loving broadleaf evergreen. It is one of the hardiest of the cherrylaurels. From what you have described, it sounds like your laurels have suffered from some winter damage. Like you said, they literally look like they were burned. In general, all broad-leafed evergreens are more susceptible to winter damage if they are planted in the fall because the roots have not had time to become established before the winter arrives. How long have your laurels been in the ground? If they were planted this fall it is likely winter damage. Even if they are an established planting in your garden, they are subject to damage when we have unusually harsh winter weather. I have seen some evidence of winter damage here in Kentucky, but we did have a very cold winter, including a major ice storm, so if you found yourself in this same situation this is likely the cause. Unfortunately, the damaged foliage will not recover and should be removed if it has not already dropped. It is possible that even some of the branches are damaged, and if so they should also be removed. If the laurels were healthy to begin with they should recover and put on new growth. They are under a bit of stress, so make sure they are receiving enough moisture but that the soil drains well, and avoid over-fertilizing since this can cause more harm than good. If the majority of the plants are damaged, sometimes it is easier to remove them and plant something that will work better in that space. Otherwise, give them time and they should recover.|
|I have a weekend home located 5 miles from the conjunction of GA, TN, and NC state lines. I have an Arizona cypress, 12' tall, 10' base spread, in the ground for seven years. The tips of sub-branches are turning brown. The tree looks otherwise healthy. What's wrong, if anything? What should I do? Bill, Atlanta|
|Hello, Bill: Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), hence its name, is native to central and southern Arizona. Once established, after 2-3 years it is very drought and heat tolerant, but this evergreen is subject to sunscald, which may be what has happened. This ornamental with bluish foliage is perfectly hardy to your region but does seem to be shorter lived in the southeast. It does not typically have a lot of insect or disease problems in its native habitat assuming that it is growing in full sun (six hours); it is, however, more susceptible to canker when grown in areas of high humidity (such as the southeast). Too much moisture can be a problem so if it is planted in a space where the soil does not drain well this can become an issue. When did you first notice the browning? If it was green all winter and has now turned brown during the summer months we can rule out winter damage. It can take some time for plant material to show winter damage but you would have noticed it before now. Typically when we see browning foliage it is either a moisture issue or potential disease. Just to rule out any disease problems you can take a sample to your horticulture Extension agent at the County Cooperative Extension Service.|
|I have about 400 junipers on the side of a hill I can't mow. Most are blue rug. The ones in the center, which is the steepest part, are tall growing junipers. The center ones seem to be dying. I don't have a clue why. Jon, Burkesville|
|Hello, Jon in Kentucky: Is it possible that we have had communication about your junipers before? Depending on the percentage of brown foliage, they may or may not be salvageable. Typically when we see yellow/brown foliage on evergreens it is in the inner part of the plant. This is a normal shedding process they go through each year, allowing more room for new growth. Are your evergreens brown just in the center or are they brown throughout the plant? If the latter is true, it does not sound good. Unfortunately, once evergreens turn brown it is usually too late to help them. They usually do not put on any new growth to replace the dead. If the majority of the plant is brown, it should be removed. Junipers require full sun, meaning they need a minimum of six hours of direct light to thrive. If they are not getting enough light they will become stressed and are more prone to insect and disease issues. There are many species of juniper and some are more disease-resistant than others, but spider mites are a very common problem. We usually notice the symptoms before we notice the tiny mites. Look for webbing along the branches. Remember that even established plantings can require supplemental water when Mother Nature does not provide enough rainfall. If you have not already taken a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service, it would be a good idea. The horticulture agent will be able to give you a more definitive diagnosis and treatment options to help save your junipers.|
|I have four boxwood bushes that I keep trimmed in the shape of balls; they are many years old and very established. We had an extremely hard winter in Oklahoma. The bushes have all turned yellow on one side: are they half dead or will they come back? Ronda, Claremore|
|Hello, Ronda: From what you have described, it sounds like your boxwoods have some winter damage. Since the yellow foliage only appears to be on one side of each of your shrubs, we can rule out any insect activity. It sounds more like a situation where the plants were subject to winter burn or possibly salt. Are these plantings in a location where the snow was piled up near them? If so, the snow can actually act as insulation and protect one side of the plant while leaving the other exposed to the elements. Salt trucks can also damage plant material. Again, if your evergreens are planted close to the street, this could be a possibility. Typically when evergreens die back they do not put on new growth to replace the lost. However, it all depends on how severe the damage is. At this point I would say it is going to be a waiting game. You will want to remove the damaged foliage, and hopefully as the warmer temperatures arrive the boxwoods will put on some healthy new growth. Boxwoods are tough and it is helpful that these are established and otherwise healthy plants. I would not remove them yet, just wait and see what happens this growing season. A light dose of fertilizer might help, but do not overdo it because too much food can have the reverse effect.|
|I have leyland cypress and the top three feet of the tree is dead; what would cause this? Also, is it possible to move them after being planted for a year? Faith, Reno|
|Hello, Faith: Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are susceptible to wind/ice and other storm damage. I cannot say for sure this is what happened to your evergreen without seeing it, but it does sound likely since the rest of the tree seems fine. These evergreens do have their share of problems, including bagworms and various fungal diseases. You can take a sample of the damaged part to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis. The horticulture agent will be able to tell you if there is something else going on with your tree. You can potentially transplant your cypress depending on how tall it is. These evergreens have a shallow root system, so if it is taller than 15-20 feet it may struggle to support itself after being transplanted. Leyland cypress thrive when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil. Root rot can become a problem if the plants are exposed to excessive moisture. Keep these factors in mind if you end up moving your cypress.|
|I have many Leyland cypress trees on my property about 14 years old. Most are shedding from the inside out. Other than this they seem healthy. I read the post about another person who had the same problem. In your reply you talked about keeping the area under the trees free of fallen growth. How does fallen growth under the trees affect them? There is quite a lot of fallen growth under my trees. I assume I should clean up under the trees. Will doing this help save the trees? Leon, Greer|
|Hi, Leon: It is perfectly normal that evergreens shed some of their inner foliage. This is especially true for the Leyland cypress because they are such fast growers that they need to drop some of their foliage in order to make room for new growth. From what you have described it sounds like this is what is going on with your evergreens. As long as it is just the inner and not the outer foliage there should be nothing to worry about. This is especially true if the rest of the plants look healthy. These plants do have their share of problems, including bagworms and various fungal diseases, but from what you have mentioned this does not seem to be the issue. Making sure the space around the plants is free of fallen plant debris is important in terms of not spreading any potential insect or disease problems. Dead plant material is an inviting place for insects to live and potentially over-winter. If there is foliage that is turning brown and falling from the outer branches you should take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service or to a reputable garden center for them to analyze. Leyland cypress are happiest when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil. If your plants are not growing in these conditions they may not thrive.|
|I have purchased two spiral dwarf pine trees. I am concerned with the winter weather because they are in large patio pots for ornaamental looks on my patio. I need them to survive because I don't want them planted in the ground. They are three feet tall.
|Hello, Carol: Keeping evergreens in containers is a common practice and one that can be successful under the right conditions. You will want to make sure the container has drainage holes and ideally you do not want them to be in direct contact with the ground. If the ground freezes, the container will as well and cracking will be more likely, exposing the roots to the in climate weather. Lifting the containers up with pot feet will help promote air circulation under the container making it less likely to freeze. Make sure the container is larger than the root system of the plant so that you can add additional soil to the base and around the plant to help keep it insulated. This is also important so that the roots have room to grow in the future. A thin layer of mulch will also help keep the evergreens insulated as well as give your containers a finished look. Adding a layer of pine cones or cut greens to the base of the plant will have the same effect and be more decorative. I assume your patio is outdoors; if not you will want to reconsider your plan since these evergreens will not be happy indoors. Keep in mind that no plant wants to live its entire life in a container although it is fine to keep them for a few years. As far as watering your plants during the winter they should be fine with the amount of rain and snow we typically receive, but if we do go a couple of weeks with no moisture they will need to be hand watered. Pines are sun lovers so hopefully your patio is south-facing; if not you will want to make sure they are in a space where they will receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Do not fertilize during the winter months but as spring approaches they will benefit from some additional nutrients.|
|I have recently received a Mountain Fire Peoria plant. It states it needs part shade, but the only area I have to plant it is a mostly sunny area. My question is, will it take sunnier locations? Susan, Sikeston|
|Hello, Susan in Missouri: Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that produces white pendulous flowers in the early spring. The flowers are sweet but the orangeish-red color on the new growth of this plant is stunning. So, ideally this shrub should be planted in part shade but it will tolerate full sun. Even better is if the space you have for it is sunny in the morning or late evening but shaded during the hottest part of the day. The key to keeping this plant happy is sufficient moisture. It really prefers to grow in a soil that is moist but well-drained and slightly acidic. Mulching will help keep the moisture in so after you get it in the ground, add a thin layer of mulch, no more than 3 inches thick. As with any new addition to the garden, watering is essential, especially this time of the year in preventing the roots from drying. It also promotes root establishment, which is important for the long-term health of the plant. If Mother Nature does not provide rain, give your Pieris a good soaking 2-3 times per week until the temperatures cool off.|
|I have seven Gold Mop cypress shrubs that we planted this past spring. All of a sudden some of the foliage is turning brown and their coloring doesn't look as vibrant. They get plenty of sunlight, but it has been beastly hot down here and we have had a drought. I have watered them but with as hot as it has been I am pretty certain I haven't overwatered. Is there anything I can do to save them? Kathy, Myrtle Beach|
|Hello, Kathy: Does the browning seem to be spreading? It sounds like your evergreens may not be receiving enough moisture. How often are you watering? Newly planted shrubs should get an inch of water per week, either by Mother Nature or a hose. A good soaking is needed every three to four days for the first couple of months if they are getting their roots established during the hot summer months. This is especially true for your sandy soil that drains so well. Spring is a fine time to plant as long as we are going to be around during the hot summer months to keep our new additions watered. Some evergreens are more susceptible than others to sun damage, but Chamaecyparis is one that is more likely to be affected by hot, dry, and potentially windy situations. For now make sure your plants are getting enough moisture. The good news is that a little bit of sun damage is not going to kill your shrubs. As long as it does not spread, it will just make them look less appealing for now; they should put on new growth the following season. If there are tips that are completely brown go ahead and prune these dead parts off; otherwise, avoid fertilizing and keep up with your watering. Adding a thin layer of mulch, no more than 2 inches, will help keep the moisture in.
|I have six golden cypress shrubs planted next to my sidewalk. Over the winter they got piled with snow and the lower branches have broken off. Will they grow new ones this season? Susan, Green Lake|
|Hello, Susan in Wisconsin: I assume that when you say golden cypress you are referring to a Chamaecyparis, commonly known as false cypress. Among these conifers there are a few different species but hundreds of named cultivars. The most common landscape plants are known for their chartreuse-like color. Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’ is probably the most available sun-loving evergreen for home gardeners. Are these new plantings or older established ones? If these evergreens went into dormancy without sufficient moisture they could have become brittle and more susceptible to breakage. I can’t give you a definitive answer in terms of new growth but unfortunately, once evergreens lose their foliage or entire branches they typically do not put on new growth. For now it will be a waiting game. As they come out of dormancy make sure they receive sufficient moisture, and it would not hurt to feed them, assuming they are not stressed for any other reason. Adding a thin layer of mulch, no more than 2 inches, will help keep the moisture in. If they do not put on new growth this spring then they will not likely do so at all. Depending on the severity of the breakage and the aesthetics they may need to be replaced, but give them time to break dormancy and if they do not look better by early summer then make your decision about keeping or removing them.|
|I have some boxwood shrubs that the middle died and the outside of bush is still green. I think that maybe they got frost? Do I prune all the dead stuff off? And what time of year should I do it? Melanie, Amboy|
|Hi, Melanie: When did you notice the middle of your shrubs was not living? You mentioned frost so I am wondering if they were fine going into the winter and then came out of winter looking like they do now. Typically frost damage occurs on the tips of boxwoods and not only in the middle of the plant. As far as pruning you can go ahead and prune out any dead branches now; this should be done as soon as it is apparent to prevent spread of potential disease/insect problems. They should not be pruned to shape this late in the summer. Are these newly planted shrubs or are they older established plants? Have you noticed any insect activity and what does the foliage look like on the rest of the plant? If your boxwoods are new additions they may not be receiving enough moisture. It is essential for all new plantings to have sufficient water given to the root ball of the plant as well as the surrounding area. It is hard to narrow down the problem without knowing specifics but prune out the dead and keep the plants watered but avoid fertilizing this late in the summer since it will encourage new growth, making it much more susceptible to frost damage. Keep an eye on the rest of the plant and if it starts declining take a sample to your local garden center or your county Extension office for analysis.|
|I have some Leyland cypress trees about 30 feet tall. Some of the limbs are sagging due to the snow we had in March. Will the sagging branches eventually upright themselves? They have about a 40 degree sag in some of the branches. Rick, Monroe|
|Hello, Rick: Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are fast-growing evergreens that are unfortunately prone to wind, snow, and ice damage. These plants are ideal in terms of a fast-growing screen, but this also means they have their negative aspects as well. Since they can grow up to 3 feet in one year, this means the wood does not have time to become as strong as it would if it were a slower grower. The branching structure and the shallow roots of the trees make them very susceptible to storm damage. At this point the damage is done, and unless the branches are split or actually broken off they should stand upright again. This will take time and there is no guarantee, so it would be beneficial to remove some of the weight of the branches that are not upright. Proper pruning can make your evergreens less susceptible to future damage. If the branches are broken they should be pruned back. Either way, hiring a certified arborist would be the way to go. You can contact your County Cooperative Extension Service for local recommendations.
|I have three limber pines, the pyramid type, about 4 feet tall. The deer ate the heck out of them, and all that is left is a few needles here and there on some of the branches. They are pretty well bald for the most part: will these trees recover? Will they fill out again or is that a lost cause? They were sooo full before the deer got them. I didn't protect them, because I was told deer don't like them, but I guess that is not the case. I have pictures if you need to see them. Jacqui, Eureka|
|Hello, Jacqui in Montanna: Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ are nice evergreens used in home gardens for screening or specimen plantings. The reality is that there is no plant that is 100 percent deer-proof. If they are hungry enough they will eat just about anything in their path. As a general rule, once evergreens lose their foliage they do not typically recover, regardless of the manner in which they lost it. Unfortunately, it does not sound good for your pines. They do not have much foliage left in order to photosynthesize and the fact that these are not established plantings gives them even less of a chance of survival. Did the deer do any damage to the trunk of the trees? If so, they may have damaged the cambium layer, which is essential for transferring food and nutrients. If this layer has been rubbed it can be very detrimental to the evergreens. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the only thing to do now is wait and see what happens. If they are going to put on any new growth they will begin to do this in the spring. An application of a well-balanced fertilizer will be beneficial if you notice any new growth; otherwise it would not be worth your time or expense.|
|I have three nandina plants but no berries, and also two holly trees with not berries. What's my problem? Donna, Mayfield|
|Hello, Donna: Nandina domestica, commonly known as heavenly bamboo, are a nice colorful addition to the garden. They are typically evergreen and provide year-round interest, although they can defoliate if we have a harsh winter.
Unlike the larger growing species, some of the newer, more compact cultivars such as ‘Nana,’ ‘Gulf Stream,’ and ‘Firepower’ do not produce flowers or fruit but others such as ‘Harbor Dwarf’ will fruit with age. Not knowing exactly what you are growing in your garden I would suspect that they are not fruiting for one of two reasons. First, it may not be a fruiting cultivar or if they are new additions they may just need time. As for your hollies, it is the females that produce berries while the males are the pollinators. One male can pollinate up to seven females but not every male will pollinate every female. They need to flower at the same time, and for best fruit production they should be planted within 50 feet of one another. Specific males pollinate specific females. If you have two males, unfortunately you will never see fruit on these plants, but if you have females then the solution would be to plant a male. If you know exactly which cultivars you have I can give you suggestions for pollinators.
|I have three white pine trees that I have not planted. Can I over-winter them in their 5-gallon pots outside against the house, in the garage, or in the basement? I also have three boxwoods that I have not planted. Leslie, Louisville|
|Hi, Leslie: It is certainly not too late to plant your evergreens. In fact, is a great time to get them in the ground. We can plant evergreens throughout the year as long as the ground is not frozen. Fall planting is ideal but if this is not feasible, keeping them in their nursery pots and over-wintering them outdoors is the next best option. They will need to be protected from the winter weather and insulating them is a good idea. Group them together, close to the house, so they will benefit from the radiant heat. Putting bales of pine straw or bags of mulch around them will help to insulate them. They do go dormant but if Mother Nature does not provide moisture they will need to be hand watered every couple of weeks. We do not want to over water them but if they are under cover and not exposed to potential rain or snow, hand watering will be necessary. Another option is planting them in the ground in their nursery pots. This will still require digging a large hole but this will help insulate the evergreens and keep the soil at a more consistent temperature. Then in the spring you can lift them from the soil, remove them from their pots, and plant them. Bringing them indoors is not a good option. They need to go through their dormancy period and the temperatures indoors will not allow for this.
|I have two acres shaped like a rectangle. Our house is closer to a neighbor's on one side than the other. I want to plant some trees to help buffer between the two properties. My problem is the distance I will be covering. If you had to buffer the length of a football field (or longer) what trees would be best? I have read about the Thuja Green Giants. I'm looking for width, height, thick cover in summer and winter. James, Mt Washington|
|Hi, James in Kentucky: Landscaping with evergreens is a great way to provide screening. Choosing the right plant for your space is important in terms of health and longevity. You are covering quite a large space and it will be an investment so making a good choice the first time is even more important for you. First you will need to determine how much sun/shade this space receives. This will be the most important factor in making your decision. There are certainly more evergreen choices if the area receives more sun than shade. Technically full sun is considered six hours of direct light each day, anything less than three is considered shade, and anything in between is part sun. You will also want to take into consideration the soil you will be planting in. You may want to have it tested by your County Cooperative Extension Service before planting. The results will indicate the pH as well as the nutrient levels. If you are thinking the larger the better in terms of height and width, the Thuja you mentioned is a great choice if you have full sun. They are fast-growing, long-live evergreens that are not prone to many disease or insect problems. ‘Green Giant’ is a large variety reaching up to 60 feet tall and around 15 feet wide at maturity. It will certainly take less quantity to plant these as opposed to a smaller growing evergreen. Other large evergreen options for sun are juniper, holly, and pine. Hemlocks would be a good choice if you are dealing with more shade.|
|I have two potted evergreen trees about 4 feet tall. They both candled nicely this year as they always do; they have been in these big pots now for about 4 years. In the past two weeks I have noticed that on one side of both trees they are turning brown. Please help, I don't want to lose them. Veronica, Milton|
|Hi, Veronica: You are likely not doing anything wrong to cause the brown foliage. Not knowing specifically what the evergreens are that you have in your containers, it is difficult to say what might be going on. From what you have described it sounds like they put on healthy new growth this year. I realize they have been growing in this same location for a few years, but is it possible that the sides that are turning brown are not receiving as much sunlight as the others? If so, rotating the pots every couple of weeks would help. At first thought this seems to be more of an environmental issue than an insect or disease problem because it is only affecting one side of each evergreen. Otherwise, you should take a sample of the foliage to your local garden center or to your County Cooperative Extension Service. Evergreens are wonderful in containers for year-round interest, but they may not want to live their entire lives in these containers and may be happier planted in the garden. For now you can prune back the brown foliage.|
|I just planted Leyland cypress trees; they came in plastic, about 1 foot long, and they were in a dormant stage. I planted them exactly per instructions given, but now most of them are turning completely brown. Are they going through a stage of dormancy or are they dying? Sally, Jay|
|Hello, Sally: Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are fast-growing evergreens that thrive when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil. Root rot can become a problem if the plants are exposed to excessive moisture. These evergreens do have their share of problems, including bagworms and various fungal diseases. It is normal that evergreens shed some of their inner foliage. This is especially true for the Leyland cypress because they are such fast growers that they need to drop some of their foliage in order to make room for new growth. If all of the needles have turned brown and are falling off, I am sorry to say that it does not sound good for your cypress. Unfortunately, once they have turned brown there is nothing we can do to help save them. When evergreens turn brown this does not indicate a dormant stage. During the winter when the growth slows down is when they are dormant but they always remain green. This is true for all evergreen plants. They usually do not put on any new growth at this stage. I cannot say for sure what has happened to your newly planted evergreens without seeing them, but you can take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis. This way you will know if they were not healthy when you purchased them or if it was a watering issue. You can also contact the nursery that you purchased them from to see about their guarantee policy. For now, you can go ahead and remove the plants because dead plant material is a great environment for insects and disease to live.
|I planted boxwoods in the fall that were on sale from Lowes. I watered them until winter; they have now turned brown. If I fertilize them the end of February do you think they might live? Is there anything I can do for them now? We have had a light winter but they may be hurt from the wind. What fertilizer do I use? Regina, Lawrenceburg|
|Hello, Regina in Kentucky: The first question would be what percentage of the boxwoods are brown? If more than 50 percent of the foliage is brown the chance of them recovering is slim. There are many factors that come into play when we are dealing with the decline of new plantings. The fact that they were purchased on sale and at the end of the season may mean that they were not healthy plantings to being with. Do you notice any insect activity on the foliage? Another possibility is the planting procedure/site. When we add new additions to our gardens it is essential that we dig their new homes twice as wide as the container they were purchased in and just as deep so the top of the root ball is flush with the soil surrounding the planting site. This reduces the chance of the root ball being lifted out of the ground as the soil freezes and thaws, making the roots susceptible to winter damage. Making sure that the soil is well-drained is important in terms of preventing root rot. Water is key to a successful planting. Even though we may not have to water as much as we would during the hot summer months, it is still necessary for root establishment. Fertilizer is not recommended for new plantings during the first full year. It is better for the plants to become established in the existing environment as opposed to giving them nutrients that may not always be there. Have you had your soil tested? It is always a good idea to know what level of nutrients you are dealing with before planting. Your County Cooperative Extension Service is a great resource for soil testing. you can add nutrients as recommended, but for now it is a waiting game. You can go ahead and remove the dead foliage but you may have to prune later again in the spring. You can check with the store that you bought them from and inquire about their guarantee policy.|
|I planted two Vanderwolf's Pyramid limber pines in the spring and the trees did great during the summer. I probably got about 18" of growth both in height and width. As fall and cooler weather approached I changed the watering from every other day to one time per week. I have noticed recently that many of the lower branches have their needles turning a bright yellow. Do you have any idea what might cause this? Ric, Highlands Ranch|
|Hello, Ric: Vanderwolf’s Pyramid is a cultivar of Pinus flexilis, commonly known as a limber pine. This upright evergreen will reach 20-25 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide at maturity. Unlike the species, this cultivar is a fast grower, putting on an average of 25 inches per year. So, yours are right on track. The foliage is bluish-green with twisted needles. These pines will perform best when planted in a space where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. They are adaptable to soil conditions but prefer moist, well-drained sites. These evergreens are not susceptible to many insect or disease problems, so my initial thought is inadequate moisture level. Although it sounds like you have cut back on your watering, every other day may have been too much moisture depending on how much you were giving them and how well the soil drains. So at this point, with the colder temperatures, you can stop watering since Mother Nature should give the pines as much moisture as they will require at this time of the year, and avoid fertilizing. It is best to let the plants become established in the natural environment and then fertilize the following year. For now, spread a thin layer of mulch around the base of your pines, no more than 2 inches thick. This will help protect the roots as well as keep the moisture in. As with most evergreens, once the foliage turns yellow/brown there is nothing we can do to turn it back to green. This lower foliage will eventually drop. You may in the meantime contact the nursery/garden center where you purchased them to see what the guarantee/replacement policy is. Hopefully the pines will be fine; there is always a certain amount of stress involved when we add new additions to the garden but yours seem to be happy with all the new growth. At this point let’s just wait until next spring to see what shape they are in then. It is normal for them to drop some of their inner foliage in order to make room for new growth.|
|I purchased two Vanderwolf pines at an auction recently and I planted them in a triangular formation on the border of my property. Problem is, the trees are pretty much bare on the bottom 1/3. No needles, probably due to the fact of how they were stored at the nursery. Is there any hope or will they behave like most other pines and be barren on the bottom 1/3 of the tree? I am open to putting other plants around the trees to hide this if necessary. Do you have any recommendations? Patrick, Cornwall|
|Hi, Patrick: Vanderwolf’s Pyramid is a cultivar of Pinus flexilis , commonly known as a Limber ine. This evergreen is a slow grower reaching 20-25 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide at maturity. The foliage is bluish-green with twisted needles. These pines will perform best when planted in a space where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. They are adaptable to soil conditions but prefer moist, well-drained sites. As with most evergreens, once they have lost their foliage they typically do not put on any new growth to replace what has already fallen. Make sure the pines are not being over-watered and avoid fertilizing for the first year. If you want something to plant at the base, keep in mind the mature width of the evergreens and plant accordingly. Hopefully the pines will be fine and they will not lose any more of their foliage. It is normal for them to drop some of their inner foliage this time of year, but if you start noticing more die back of the lower foliage there may be something other than transplant shock going on. I assume you would want something evergreen to use as a planting around the pines so here are some suggestions: Nandina, potentially a dwarf variety such as ‘Gulf Stream’; Gold Mop Chamaecyparis would be a nice color contrast; and inkberry holly or boxwoods would also work.|
|I read many of your posts and thought you might be able to help. I recently purchased four 3-foot-tall juniper trees and planted them in containers on our patio about two weeks ago. Now, some of the tips of the needles are turning yellow. I watered them well after planting and we've gotten a reasonable amount of rain since then. The containers do allow them some room and have drainage. They're also getting full sun though it hasn't been particularly warm yet in Chicago. Could they be over-watered? I know they won't be happy in containers forever and will get them into the ground in a few years. Leslie, Chicago|
|Hi, Leslie: Without seeing your plants I can only speculate, but some evergreens are more susceptible to environmental conditions and winter damage than others. Both of these factors could be causing your plants to have yellowing tips. There are many species of juniper and some are more disease-resistant than others, but spider mites are a very common problem. We usually notice the symptoms before we notice the tiny mites. Look for a webbing along the branches. From what you have described this could be a possibility. These evergreens are very cold-tolerant so the temperature should not be a factor. When we see yellow foliage on evergreens it is usually on the inner part of the plant. This is a normal shedding process they go through each year allowing more room for new growth. Yellowing on the tip is certainly more of a concern. A positive diagnosis is the only way to help prevent future damage, so take a sample to the garden center where you purchased it; hopefully they will have a knowledgeable staff that can help or you can always go to your County Cooperative Extension Service. The horticulture agent will be able to give you a more definitive diagnosis. It could also be a moisture issue. I think it would be too soon to show any signs of nutrient deficiency, which can be a common issue with container plants. Since the temperatures are not hot yet, these plants will not need to be watered more than once a week. As the temperatures rise you will need to increase your watering routine. Make sure the soil is never sopping yet. It should be allowed to dry out before adding additional moisture. You may also check the drainage hole to make sure it is not blocked.|
|I recently panicked and cut and pulled off some brown pine-like cones appearing on some of my Green Giant arborvitaes. I have since learned from your Web site and various others that these brown cones are a normal fertilizing process of the female tree, and these seeds are needed. Does this mean I have done some damage to the trees, and should I keep the cones and spread them around the trees so that they can help serve as fertilize in the spring?
Alexander, Silver Spring|
|Hi, Alexander in Maryland: Arborvitae ‘Green Giant’ (Thuja plicata) does produce small pine cones that are much smaller than the pine cones we typically see on other conifers. The purpose of the pine cones is reproduction. It is basically a shelter for seeds to live in until they are mature and ready to be released and planted. After this evergreen flowers, it produces separate male and female cones on the same tree, which technically are considered fruit. The male cones are round and found at the ends of the foliage while the female cones are still small but a bit more elongated in shape and a bit larger than the male at maturity. While they are green during the summer months, as they mature, they turn brown. There is no reason to remove the pine cones in the future but you have not jeopardized the health of your tree by doing so this year. You could not have possibly removed all of them and pine cone production in general differs every year depending on moisture, temperature, and other environmental factors. You certainly can leave the cones around the base of the tree but it will not benefit the tree in terms of nutrients.
|I recently planted 10 Leyland trees that were about 2 feet tall. Immediately after planting they appeared to be all droopy and quickly turned all brown. I have been watering regularly and even tried Miracle-Gro. How do I know if they are all dead, is this normal when replanting trees, and is there any way to recover them? Russ, Chantilly|
|Hi, Russ: Anytime we transplant a new addition to the garden there is always a certain amount of stress involved. This is why it is so important to plant properly and reduce as much stress as possible. The holes for your Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) should have been twice as wide and just as deep as the containers they were purchased in. Planting too deep or too shallow can cause problems. They should have been watered immediately and mulched with a thin layer no more than 2 inches deep. It is important to make sure the mulch does not get piled up around the trunk of your trees since this can encourage insect and other disease problems. Fertilizing is not necessary for the first year. It really is better to let the plants become established in the environment that exists naturally without giving them a boost that may not be there in the future. Too much fertilizer can actually burn our plants. Unfortunately when evergreens turn brown there is little we can do to save them. The droopiness you described could be due to lack of moisture if they were dry when you planted them and then not watered for a couple of days. You can contact the nursery you purchased them from and see what their guarantee policy is. You can also take a sample to your County Extension Service to make sure there are no insect or disease problems. Leyland cypress are prone to bagworms and fungal and canker problems. I would be surprised, though, if this were the case since they declined in health so fast after being transplanted. It sounds more like an environmental issue. These rapid growing evergreens are tolerable of most soil conditions as long as it is a well-drained area.
|i recently planted beautiful boxwood beds. I love to look at them almost as much as my male hound loves urinating on them! I need a defense here. Dar, Courtland|
|Hello, Dar: As pet owners and gardeners we have to learn to share the garden with them. It can be frustrating when we put all this time, energy, and money into our landscape and our four-legged friends proceed to use it as a restroom or, even worse, they immediately dig it up. Just be thankful your hound is just urinating on them and not taking them up from the soil! Unless your dog is solely using this area to relieve himself then your boxwoods should be fine. Urine in high concentrations can be very alkaline, it can over time alter the pH of the soil and damage plant material. This is typically the case when it becomes a consistent habit or the neighborhood dogs are marking their spot. Fortunately for you it is only your dog so it will be easier to train him to go in other areas as well. There are also many nontoxic products available that are made specifically for repelling dogs. Liquid Fence makes one that is ready to spray, made of natural plant oils such as citronella and cinnamon oils. It is environmentally safe and not harmful to the dogs. The scent is a natural deterrent. These kinds of products will have to be re-applied every few months or more after a heavy rainfall. Watering the soil around your boxwoods will help dilute the urine if you can get to them shortly afterward. Otherwise, adding layers of pine cones around your evergreens or anything else that is not nice to walk on may also help deter your hound.
|I recently purchased some Green Mountain boxwoods. I made the mistake of leaving them in my car for several hours during the day before removing them later for planting. I believe the plants are heat stressed as the leaves at the top of the plants yellowed. I planted them, provided water, and also a small amount of 13-13-13 fertilizer. I trimmed most of the yellowed leaves, but the plants have continued to yellow, even turning a golden brown in some areas. Any remedies? Michael, Bartlett|
|Hello, Michael: Usually when we see the foliage on boxwoods begin to yellow, this is an indication of nitrogen deficiency, too much water, and other leaf disorders, but if the plants looked healthy when you purchased them I do not suspect any of these are reason for concern. The truth is that it is just a waiting game now. The plants are stressed not only from the extended time period in the hot car but also from being transplanted. For now, continue to remove the foliage that does not look healthy and keep them watered if Mother Nature does not do so. Make sure to dispose of all foliage that you remove, do not leave it on the soil around the plants. Avoid fertilizing them at this time. It really is best to let the plant become established in the environment that exists naturally and then feed them the following year. Keep the soil moderately moist but not sopping wet. A thin layer of mulch no more than 2 inches will help retain the moisture levels and keep the weeds down. Boxwoods are pretty tough plants and if the root system is healthy, more than likely they will be just fine. It will just take them time to recoup and adjust to their new home.
|I recently purchased two topiary shaped boxwoods that I planted in containers to go on my front porch. The porch is completely in the shade. One of the boxwoods is getting brown tips on the leaves and the leaves are droopy. Did I over-water or could it possibly be a fungus? Rhonda, Olathe|
|Hello, Rhonda in Kansas: Boxwood are tolerant of most growing conditions in terms of light so the shade should not be an issue. These evergreens are susceptible to various insect and disease problems, but most are not foliar in nature. Over-watering is harder to do accomplish in containers, especially if they have sufficient drainage. The foliage would turn light green and then yellow if this were the issue. Your watering routine will depend on the temperature and humidity, but early in the spring once every few days should be sufficient. When the temperatures rise into the 80s-90s they might need to be watered every day. It is always a good idea to stick your finger an inch or so into the soil to see if it is still moist. Water only when the soil is dry. I assume the evergreen did not have these symptoms when you purchased them, so for it to develop brown tips in such a short period of time I would suspect it is an environmental issue. If you have had freezing temperatures since you planted them, the boxwoods may have winter burn. The browning of the tender new growth is a sign of winter burn. If this is the case you can prune out the dead foliage and the plant will put on new growth in no time. Stem blight is a fungus that has similar symptoms as winter burn, but eventually the entire stem will die back. If you have noticed that the brown parts are spreading you should have a horticulturist take a look to determine what is going on. You can always take samples to your county Extension Office for diagnosis.|
|I want to put in an evergreen hedge, preferably this fall, but could wait til spring with the following characteristics: disease, pest and deer resistance desirable; open, sunny location; fast, or at least medium, growth. Libby, Smithfield|
|Hello, Libby in Kentucky: I am not sure what you are thinking in terms of size so I will give you a few options at different mature heights and widths. Some options for your sunny space include: boxwood and nandina for a smaller hedge, or viburnum, holly, juniper, chamaecyparis, arborvitae, and pine are all good larger choices and have varying heights and widths within each species as well as growth rates. If you give me more specific information concerning size I would be happy to give you cultivar/variety suggestions. Keep in mind that no plant is completely disease-resistant or deer-proof. Also, plants are more susceptible to insects and disease when they are under stress. This is why choosing the right plant for the right space is so important. Eliminating stress will help reduce potential insect and disease issues. Deer certainly have plants they are more likely to nibble on, such as hosta and roses, but unfortunately they will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough. Fall planting is ideal since the day and night time temperatures are cooler and this environment is more conducive to root establishment. Spring is also a fine time to plant as long as your new plantings can be watered all summer long. No matter when you plant it is best to avoid fertilizing for the first year. This helps the plant become established in the nutrients that naturally exist in your soil.|
|Is it too late to trim schrubs (boxwood) that are leafing out already? Nancy, Boaz|
|Hello, Nancy: Boxwood shrubs are not too picky in terms of when they are pruned, but there are benefits to pruning at certain times of the year. Pruning in the spring while they are putting on new growth is fine but it will only encourage more growth. So, if you do prune now you may have to get your tools back out later in the season. You may be creating more work for yourself by cutting them back now; you can wait until later in the spring or early summer and by that time they will have finished flushing out for the season. The only time you want to avoid pruning these evergreens is during the late summer/fall. Prompting new growth at this time of the year will make the plant more susceptible to winter damage, since the tender growth may not have time to harden off before the cold temperatures arrive. As with any pruning job make sure your tools are clean and sharp. You can prune out dead, diseased, or broken branches anytime of the year.|
|Is there something that needs to be done to the ground after an evergreen has been pulled out, before a tree is planted in the same spot? Susan, Casper|
|Hello, Susan in Wyoming: When it comes to replacing a tree in the landscape, there needs to be some consideration taken into account before you replant. If you want to plant in the exact spot where the evergreen was, you will need to hire an arborist, preferably a certified one, to completely grind out the stump, remove the chips, and refill with new soil. Be sure to let the arborist know what your plans are in terms of replanting so they can be certain to remove all the chips. If all these steps are not taken, it is not going to be a healthy environment for any new tree to thrive. If you are not going to have the stump ground out and want to plant in the same area, that is fine, but you want to make sure you are far enough away from where the evergreen was growing that the roots of the new planting have ample space to grow. In most cases 6 to 8 feet away from the stump is sufficient. You can contact your county Extension service for recommendations for certified arborists in your area. It is also important to determine why the original evergreen declined in health. Some diseases can persist in the soil for decades, so getting a proper diagnosis is important in terms of the health of your new planting. This way you can choose a disease-resistant variety if needed and know that it will be fine to plant in the space.|
|M boxwoods look like they are dying. They are green on top and on one side, but dead, dry limbs at the bottom are falling off on the side facing the patio. Should I prune them? The shrubs are 30 years old. Ann, Summit|
|Hello, Ann in Massachusetts: Boxwoods (Buxus) are a great low-maintenance evergreen that can tolerate sun or shade. It is difficult to say what is going on with your evergreens not being able to see them, but when we see dieback of foliage it is related to winter burn, insect, or disease issues. There are a few different insects that like boxwoods but in most cases they are not detrimental to the plants. Have you noticed any insect activity or anything abnormal about the foliage? From what you described it does not sound like winter burn since this typically occurs at the tips of the foliage. You should take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Office for the horticulture agent to look at. They will be able to tell you if the problem is insect/disease or environmentally related. For now, go ahead and remove the foliage that does not look healthy. Make sure to dispose of all foliage that you remove, do not leave it on the soil around the plants. Boxwoods are pretty tough plants and if the root system is healthy, more than likely they will be just fine. Be sure to keep them watered if Mother Nature does not provide sufficient moisture. Even older, established plants require additional moisture during hot, dry periods.
|Many of our mature Leyland cypress trees are turning brown from the inside out and the needles are falling to the ground. It's not any specific branch. It's happening all up and down the trees from the inside out. The trees are planted all over the yard and are not too close together. We've had two years of drought but have had pretty normal rainfall this spring. I know they will shed old needles this time of year but this seems to be excessive. My husband wants to try a fungicide but I want to know what is causing the die off first. Karen, Fort Mill|
|Hello, Karen: Yes, it is normal that evergreens shed some of their inner foliage. If it is just the inner foliage and the rest of the plant looks fine I think you have nothing to worry about. Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are fast growers so they need to drop their inner needles in order to make room for new growth. You do want to make sure to keep the space around the cypress free of fallen plant debris. Have you noticed any new growth this year? Fungicide products are all preventive, meaning they will not help the current situation but will prevent future spread if there is a fungal problem. I would not suspect this to be the case for your evergreens so tell your husband to hold off. Spraying just to spray can do more damage than good and it is always best to find out exactly what is going on before using any product. You can always take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service to have it analyzed. It is difficult to say not being able to see your cypress, but if the rest of the plant looks healthy I would say this is a normal process and more than likely your plants are just fine.
|My 2-year-old small boxwood shrubs are getting dried leaves on some branches. I have been cutting them out and spraying with Sevin. What should I do now? Myra, Enid|
|Hello, Myra in Oklahoma: Without seeing a sample it is difficult to determine exactly what is going on with your boxwoods. I assume you have seen insect activity and this is why you are spraying Sevin. There are a few different insects that like boxwoods, but in most cases they are not detrimental to the plants. It is always important to have the insect identified before spraying any product on your plants. This way you are not wasting time and/or money if the product is not labeled for what you are dealing with. You can take a sample of the foliage to your County Cooperative Extension Service to have the horticulture agent rule out any insect or disease issues. It is good that you are removing the dead foliage but sure to dispose of all foliage that you remove, do not leave it on the soil around the plants. The problem could also be moisture related; even established plants require extra water during really hot and dry periods. Keep the soil moderately moist but not sopping wet. A thin layer of mulch no more than 2 inches will help retain the moisture levels and keep the weeds down. Boxwoods are pretty tough plants and if the root system is healthy, more than likely they will be just fine.
|My best friend bought me a little cypress tree from Pro Plants for Christmas. It seemed great but I noticed last week it wasn't supposed to be ever left in standing water. I did have it sitting in its pot and water was in bottom of the decorative pot. But lt doesn't seem to be getting water in the needles. What can I do for my this tree? I live in an apartment with gas heat. Mary, Saint albans|
|Hello, Mary in West Virginia: Too much moisture can be dangerous for plants, and unfortunately the growing situation your cypress was in did not allow for water to drain. Saturated roots can lead to root rot and when plants do not have a healthy root system they are pretty much done for. Your evergreen is obviously stressed from what you described, but plants are pretty tough and how far gone it is will depend on the chances of it recovering or not. If the roots have a foul smell and are brown and mushy instead of white and firm, the cypress will not recover. If the roots look healthy but all the foliage is brittle and falling off, this is not a good sign either. If this is the case, only time will tell if your cypress will put on new growth or not. Luckily, you know where your friend purchased your present so you can replace it with a healthy specimen.|
|My boxwood bushes were fine this spring and early summer. Since July some of the leaves have been turning brown but other leaves look okay. I am worried I will lose the bushes as they don't seem to be getting better. Can I do anything to save them? Karen, Chicago|
|Hi, Karen: Are your boxwoods a new addition to the garden? If so, the problem is probably moisture related; even established plants require extra water during really hot and dry summers. If lack of moisture is the problem we certainly don't want your shrubs to go into winter with these drought conditions; that would make the situation even worse. You can always take a sample to your county horticulture agent or to a local garden center to rule out any insect or disease issues. There are a few different insects that like boxwoods but in most cases they are not detrimental to the plants. You will want to avoid fertilizing your evergreens this late in the summer since doing so encourages tender new growth to emerge, making it very susceptible to frost/winter damage. You can feed your plants again next spring. A thin layer of mulch, no more than 2 inches, will help insulate the roots during the winter and will also help in retaining moisture. For now, remove all dead foliage and clean up all fallen plant debris. Prune out any dead parts and keep them watered.|
|My husband and I landscaped our front yard this last spring. We bordered our lawn with cedars and planted a variety of evergreen trees inside the perimeter. Recently, we have noticed that both the cedars and the evergreens are yellowing in the center of the trees. We have no idea what the cause is: could it be climatization, lack of an essential nutrient, or what? Darlene, Coquitlam|
|Hi, Darlene: It can be very alarming when we see our evergreens turn yellow/brown and if this were happening any other time of the year it would be cause for concern, but it is perfectly normal for evergreens, including cedars, to shed their older interior foliage at this time of year. This natural process is known as fall needle drop and as long as it is just the inner foliage of the plant turning there is nothing to be worried about. Before the winter arrives it is important to make sure the soil is not bone-dry. If evergreens do not have sufficient moisture before the ground freezes it will make them more susceptible to winter damage/burn. It is also important to apply a thin layer of mulch, no more than 2 inches thick, to help insulate the roots. If you have not already done so go ahead and mulch around all of your evergreens. Do not pile it up around the base of the trunk; instead, thin it evenly out to the drip line. We do not want to encourage new growth at this time of the year so avoid fertilizing until the spring.|
|My husband and I planted a Vanderwolf pine in September 2010. The pine has turned completely yellow on top. Will the tree come back if the bottom is still green aside from a little yellowing? We have tried root stimulator and it is still yellowing. We live in Flagstaff AZ. Will our tree survive? Jennifer, Flagstaff|
|Hello, Jennifer: It is perfectly normal for all pines to shed some of their inner foliage in order to make room for new growth. However, from what you have described it sounds like something else is going on with your evergreen. If the end of the tips are yellow then it is most likely a moisture/stress issue. It is difficult to say how far gone your evergreen is without being able to see it. Once evergreens turn yellow/brown, there is nothing we can do to help save them. This is still considered a new planting and there is always a certain amount of stress involved when transplanting. At this point you will want to check the moisture level around the root ball. You can do this by sticking your finger in the soil at least a couple of inches. If it is soggy then you will want to dig up the plant and re-work the soil by adding a few inches of compost to help elevate the planting site and improve the drainage. Another option would be to dig it up and move it to another location. Be certain that your pine is receiving a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. If the soil is bone-dry then you will want to give it a good soaking and be mindful about keeping the soil consistently moist. The plant is already stressed, so you want to avoid adding root stimulator as well as fertilizer. You can always take a sample of your pine to your County Cooperative Extension Service or check with the nursery/garden center where you purchased it to see if they have a certified arborist on staff that could come out and take a look at your pine. You can also inquire about their guarantee policy. You can visit the Coconino County Extension Service Web site at http://extension.arizona.edu/coconino.|
|My Leland cypress trees have brown needles at the ends of some of the branches due to snow and ice storms. Should I trim the brown out or will it take care of itself? Ron & Gloria, Middletown|
|Hi, Ron and Gloria: Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are fast-growing evergreens that are susceptible to wind/ice and other storm damage. I would suspect this is what has caused the outer tips to turn brown. Winter damage is a common problem with these plants, but in most cases is not detrimental to the long-term health of the evergreen. At this point the brown foliage should be brittle and will eventually drop on its own, but it is perfectly fine if you want to remove the damaged foliage yourself. After evergreens turn brown it is too late to nurture them back to health, so unfortunately that foliage is dead and it will have to put on new growth to replace the damaged tips. It is normal that evergreens shed some of their inner foliage. This is especially true for the Leyland cypress because they are such fast growers that they need to drop some of their foliage in order to make room for new growth. These plants do have their share of problems, including bagworms and various fungal diseases, but from what you have described this does not seem to be the issue. You can take a sample of the damaged part to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis. The horticulture/agriculture agent(s) will be able to tell you if there is something else going on with your tree. Leyland cypress thrive when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil.|
|My Leyland cypress trees are 5 years old and until three months ago they were beautiful. All of a sudden, they are turning yellow from the inside out. My soil is sandy and well-drained. What is happening? Kathleen, Suffolk|
|Hello, Kathleen in Virginia: It sounds like your Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are well-established evergreens. It is perfectly normal that these plants shed some of their inner foliage. This is especially true for the Leyland cypress because they are such fast growers that they need to drop some of their foliage in order to make room for new growth. Although this is a natural process it typically does not happen this time of the year. These evergreens do have their share of problems, including bagworms and various fungal diseases. You should take a sample of the yellow foliage to your County Cooperative Extension Service to rule out any insect or disease issues. They will be able to give you a positive diagnosis as well as control methods if needed. Leyland cypress thrive when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil. Root rot can become a problem if the plants are exposed to excessive moisture, although this does not seem to be a problem in your case. Making sure the space around the plants is free of fallen plant debris is important in terms of not spreading any potential insect or disease problems. Dead plant material is an inviting place for insects to live and potentially over-winter. Without seeing a sample I can only speculate as to what is going on with your evergreens.|
|My limber pine (Vanderwolf) has suddenly started to turn brown on the ends of all branches. I suspect it's had too much water. Can it survive? Brenda, Auburn|
|Hello, Brenda: Vanderwolf pine is a cultivar of Pinus flexilis, commonly known as a limber pine. This evergreen is a slow grower, reaching 20-25 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide at maturity. The foliage is bluish-green with twisted needles. These pines will perform best when planted in a space where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. They are adaptable to soil conditions but prefer moist but well-drained sites. This pine is resistant to most insect and disease problems, so it may very well be that it is receiving too much moisture. Does the soil drain well where it is planted? If not, you can amend the soil with a product such as PermaTill. This is an expanded slate material that will help improve drainage problems. Too much moisture and drainage may be an issue, but from the symptoms you have described, this would not be my first thought. Another possibility is if you or your lawn care service has sprayed any chemicals recently. We see a lot of tip damage on plant material when chemicals are sprayed in the vicinity, especially on a windy day. This is usually only found on one side of the plant. As with most evergreens, once the foliage turns brown and drops they typically do not put on any new growth to replace what has been lost. Without being able to see your evergreen, I cannot say for certain what is going on so taking a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis will be beneficial in saving your tree.|
|My taxus evergreens are turning brown in areas; is this a sign they are dying? Laura, Bridgeview|
|Hello, Laura: Taxus are members of the yew family. These evergreens can turn brown for a few different reasons. The most common is inner browning, which is a result of a healthy plant making room to grow. This is perfectly normal and there is nothing for you to do if this is the case. If the brown is mainly on the tips it could be a result of Mother Nature. Winter damage occurs when the plant is drought-stressed in combination with very cold temperatures. Insects and disease problems can also cause foliage to turn brown. So the best thing to do is have the problem identified. You can take a sample to your county Extension Service. The horticulture agent will be able to help you. The Cook County Web site is web.extension.illinois.edu/cook/index.html or you can reach them at (773) 768-7779. A happy plant is one that is receiving the right amount of sunlight, nutrients, and water. Taxus are not too picky in terms of light conditions.You can also have your soil tested through the Extension Service. If these are newer plantings make sure they get additional moisture if you have a long dry spell.|
|My Vanderwolf limber pin branches are beginning to droop and turn down; it was planted this spring. Eddie, Spokane|
|Hello, Eddie in Washington: There is always a certain amount of transplant shock involved when we add new additions to the garden. Vanderwolf’s Pyramid is a cultivar of Pinus flexilis, commonly known as a limber pine. This evergreen is a slow grower, reaching 20-25 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide at maturity. The foliage is bluish-green with twisted needles. These pines will perform best when planted in a space where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. They are adaptable to soil conditions but prefer moist, well-drained sites. Make sure your pine is not being over-watered and avoid fertilizing for the first year. Have you noticed any discoloration of the foliage? If the end of the tips are yellow then it is most likely a moisture/stress issue. At this point you will want to check the moisture level around the root ball. You can do this by sticking your finger in the soil at least a couple of inches. If it is soggy then you will want to dig up the plant and re-work the soil by adding a few inches of compost to help elevate the planting site and improve the drainage. Another option would be to dig it up and move it to another location. If the soil is bone-dry then you will want to give it a good soaking and be mindful about keeping the soil consistently moist. If this does not seem to make a difference in the appearance of your evergreen you should take a sample to your county Extension office to have the horticulture agent take a look just to be certain you are not dealing with an insect issue.|
|Our Vanderwolf's pine was planted September 2006, by the nursery. Since there are other trees on our front lawn, the nursery chose a location where it should receive sufficient sunlight. The tree has been well cared for, fertilized with evergreen fertilizer twice a year, and watered during dry spells. This year it appears to be under stress, with some new growth but brown tips particularly near the top. A number of branches have no new growth, unlike previous years. The tree comes with a five-year warranty. Do you have any suggestions? Tom and Ann, Chatham|
|Hi, Ann & Tom: It sounds like your Vanderwolf’s pine was planted properly and well cared for. I received the photos; thank you. Overall, it looks healthy but there is some definite die-back on the top branches. It could be a few different things; winter damage is a possibility if you had a dry fall and very cold winter. If this is the case then these needles will drop and the pine will put on new growth to replace them. Tip blight is also a possibility: you would see tiny fungal spores at the base of each individual needle. This is a more serious problem and should be positively identified. You really have to get up close to identify any insect or disease problems on any plant. We do not typically see many insect or disease problems with this pine but the only way to find out for sure is to have someone take a closer look. Since it is still under warranty you should have them come out and take a look. Hopefully they have a certified arborist on staff. If not, they should be able to recommend one in your area. For now make sure the pine is receiving sufficient moisture. They prefer moist, well-drained growing conditions.
|Over the winter, about 6-7" of the tips of all the evergreens has fallen. My yard is covered with green tree matter. Why did this happen?
|Hello, Jackie: It is difficult to say for certain what is going on with your evergreens not being able to see them and not knowing what kind of evergreens you are referring to, but it sounds like it could be a result of the freezing temperatures in combination with other factors. If your evergreens were suffering from moisture stress as they were going into dormancy and the ground froze before any additional moisture was available to take up through the plant, then this can cause dieback of the tips. This is especially true if the ground remained frozen for a significant period of time, which I would imagine is the norm in your area. In most cases the tips would die but remain attached to the plant. The wood becomes brittle when this happens and can cause them break off in a storm. If this were happening during the warmer months it could be a result of insect damage. Sawfly is one possibility but they only attack certain evergreens. Again, not knowing what evergreen you are growing I cannot be very specific. It is hard to say if the plants will put on any new growth to replace what has been lost, but if the rest of the plant looks healthy then this is a good sign. Be sure to give them plenty of moisture if Mother Nature does not do so this spring. To rule out any other problems you should take a sample of what has fallen off to your County Cooperative Extension Service. The horticulture agent will be able to give you a more definitive answer. You can visit the Erie County Web site at http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/erie or contact them at (716) 652-5400.
|Some branches are turning brown on one of my Arizona cypress trees. Are the black ladybugs that have appeared going to take care of the problem? Jane, Round Rock|
|Hello, Jane in Texas: Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) is native to central and southern Arizona. These evergreens are drought- and heat-tolerant once established, but are subject to sunscald. Typically when we see browning foliage it is either a moisture issue or potential disease. The good news is that this evergreen does not have a lot of insect or disease problems when given a minimum of six hours of full sun each day. They are, however, more susceptible to canker and blight when grown in areas of high humidity and too much moisture can also be a problem, so if it is planted in a space where the soil does not drain well this can become an issue. Ladybugs are a natural predator to many insects and the fact that they are on your tree may indicate an insect issue, but it is important find out why the foliage is turning brown. It would be a good idea to take a sample to your horticulture Extension agent at the County Cooperative Extension Service just to rule out any insect or disease problems.|
|Thank you so much for responding to my question about the Mohawk viburnum. You mentioned a sulfur spray: is that the same as lime sulfur? When is it safe to spray and can I spray the viburnum or is it too late since they have foliage? Is there a safer, more natural way to control a botyris fungus problem? I have another problem in my landscaping plants. Last year I lost a blue moss cypress. It started turning brown then 80% was brown. I sprayed it with Diazinon Plus this fall and it seemed to arrest the damage. However, now my emerald arbovitae is showing brown leaf dieback. Could it be a similar problem? It appeared last year in a small area and we talked to a horticulturist who thought it was environmental but now the dieback is increasing. What do you recommend to spray on arbovitae? Patricia, Nicholasville|
|Hello again, Patricia: I mentioned the sulfur spray because it can potentially damage the foliage on your viburnums. I apologize, I should have been more clear. I do not recommend spraying this or lime sulfur on your shrubs. Both products can be effective fungicides but should not be used on evergreens or semi-evergreens. The best organic control is good sanitation practices as I mentioned before, as well as making sure the viburnums are planted in an ideal location and have good air circulation. Again, I cannot be certain that botrytis is the problem so you should take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service before treating the problem. If we do not know what we are dealing with and we just spray for the sake of spraying, it can do more harm than good, so it is always a good idea to know what we are dealing with so we can treat properly. Spraying is not always the answer. You mentioned that you sprayed your cypress with Diazinon? As of December 2004, this product has been deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency as unlawful to sell as a residential insecticide. It is very toxic and should be disposed of properly; visit the following Web site for more information: www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/disposal_contacts.htm
. If your arborvitae is located in an area where you have sprayed, it is possible that the product traveled by wind to your arborvitae and has caused damage. However, it is normal for arborvitae to have some browning on the inner foliage this time of year. If this is the case, not to worry, it is just the plant's way of making more making more room to grow. Otherwise take a sample of your arborvitae as well as your viburnum to the Extension office.|
|Today, painters covered up two of my boxwoods with clear plastic tarps to protect them from paint chips/paint. I noticed some moisture forming on the underside of the tarp in the afternoon. When the painters removed the tarp, the tops of the boxwoods had turned brown and were shriveled. What happened and is there permanent damage? Jessica, Bethesda|
|Hello, Jessica in Maryland: It sounds like the new growth on your boxwoods was burned by the plastic. Not to get too technical but when clear plastic comes into direct contact with plant foliage, it can burn as a result of increased temperatures. Even on a cloudy day sun rays reach the ground, and more than 90 percent of these rays pass through clear plastic. As the heat is absorbed, it increases air temperatures; that is why a properly made greenhouse is so effective. Clear plastic acts as a transparent medium allowing short wavelengths of light to be absorbed, and the longer wavelengths that are absorbed by the plants do not allow the heat to be released, thus increasing temperature/humidity. In your case the plastic was touching the plants and this is why they were burned. Fortunately, it will not be detrimental to your evergreens. You should prune out the burned foliage and discard. It is still early enough in the season that they will put on new growth. Ideally the painters should use a black plastic that will reflect sunlight and not allow the temperatures to rise so drastically, protecting the plants from potential burn.|
|We bought a 4" cypress tree from The Home Depot in early November and immediately I potted it in a very big ceramic pot (http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202519338/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053). I was keeping it indoors and next to our only window with SOME sunlight; it's a north-facing window in Chicago so there is not much sun. After a few days the leaves started to go dry and the branches started falling apart from each other. I thought it could be the flies around the tree and, based on a suggestion from a guy at The Home Depot, I sprayed a half & half beer and water on it, which killed the bugs but the tree got worse. Then I read on in the Internet that it should be outside in the cold, and it was there for two or three weeks, then I brought it back in because nothing changed; then I removed it from the pot, spread its roots, and opened them a little and put it back in the pot. Now it is somewhere away from the direct sunlight but the condition has not changed and it has bugs. Its condition now is this: the small branches at the bottom have completely dry leaves, some leaves at the top are still feel kind of fresh to the touch but mostly dry so that if you touch them they my fall out. All the leaves are green but dry, and instead of being fluffy they are thin and like little thorns. I really want to do anything to save this plant and I really appreciate your time and your help and suggestions.
|Hello, Keivan in Chicago: I am not certain which cypress you purchased, but all members of the Cupressaceae family are cold-hardy to at least zone 7 and most of them zone 6, which is what I believe you are gardening in. So, from what you have described I don’t think you will be surprised to hear that your evergreen is not happy and, depending on the severity of the issue(s), it may be too far gone to save. Unfortunately, once evergreen show signs of stress it is often too late to reverse the inevitable. They typically do not put on new growth after losing their foliage. You mentioned that you purchased a 4” cypress and then potted it up in a large container. As a general rule when we re-pot we do not want to increase the container size more than 2 inches from what it is currently growing in. Doing so increases the chances of over-watering and potentially causing root rot. It is better to let the plant root out in a smaller container and then bump it up as it grows. As for keeping this plant indoors, it really depends on which cypress you are growing. The Web site you sent was a container so I am not sure if you thought this was specific information on the plant or not, but if you still have the grower's tag I can be more specific. Unless you are growing the Arizona or smooth cypress, this plant would be much happier growing outdoors. These evergreens require a cold dormancy period and keeping it indoors will not allow this to happen. As for the bugs, are you referring to fungus gnats? I have not heard of spraying any plant with beer and would not recommend it, but sticky traps are effective if it is fungus gnats you are dealing with. If you are really determined to save this plant, you should first get a positive diagnosis on the insect you are dealing with and then treat accordingly. Your County Cooperative Extension Office will have a horticulture agent on staff that can help you or you can take it to a reputable nursery with a horticulturist on staff. They will also be able to tell you what kind of cypress you are growing, and if it is hardy in your zone put it outside as soon as possible. Depending on the size of the container it is growing in you may choose a smaller one if needed. All cypress grow best in full sun, which technically means six hours of direct light. When the light levels are so much lower during the winter months it is necessary to place it in a southern exposure. Cut back on your watering during the winter months and do not fertilize until the spring.|
|We got our roof cleaned with a bleach solution, which dripped on boxwoods in pots. They are now caramel colored and crusty (leaves). Are the roots okay and should I just cut them way back or are they done?
|Hello, Kimberley in Delaware: Bleach can certainly damage plant foliage and it sounds like your boxwoods have been burned by the bleach solution that was used to clean your roof. Unfortunately, the damage is done and there is not anything we can do to help them recover. Go ahead and get your pruners out and remove all the damaged foliage. The good news is that unless the bleach was absorbed into the soil the boxwoods should be just fine. You did not mention how much of the foliage has turned color, but hopefully it was just the tops of the plants that are showing signs of stress and the root system was not affected. You will know shortly if the plants are going to survive or not. If the entire plant has turned color and is crispy, then the chances of recovery are slim, but if the damage is minimal the evergreens should put on new growth and be fine in the long run. For now, make sure they receive sufficient moisture. Since they are growing in containers, this may require a daily watering routine in the heat of the summer and they may benefit from a dose of your favorite plant food.
|We had a very cold winter and the deer ate 55 mature junipers down to the stems. These plants were 4 feet, now they look like rose bushes. I was told to sprinkle some holly food on them, but the remaining green leaves seem to be all turning brown. Will these shrubs grow back or are they dead? I use them on a slope to hold back mud slides and they worked great, but now I'm trying to decide if I should replace them. Steve, Stroudsburg|
|Hi, Steve: Only time will tell if they are going to recover or not, but to be honest it does not sound good for your evergreens. Juniper is not a favorite among deer, but they will eat just about anything when food is scarce and it is certainly not unheard of for deer to consume a mass amount of juniper in one feeding. Unfortunately and fortunately as gardeners, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and so are the deer when it comes to food availability during the winter months. As a general rule, evergreens do not usually replace any foliage that is damaged. Your junipers are definitely stressed and it seems as though they are continuing to decline in health. Feeding them is fine but there is no guarantee it will help them recover. It seems like a large planting area, so you might want to wait a couple weeks and see it if they show any signs of improvement, but more than likely they will need to be replaced. I am sorry that I do not have more encouraging news for you.|
|We have a new Vanderwolf's Pyramid and planted it as instructed (it is about 4 feet tall). We have been watering to establish it, etc., and now it is turning yellow on some of the pine leaves. We gave it root stimulator when we planted it and red worm tea. We deep water it about 1 time a week. Should we be doing something we are not? Or are we overdoing something? Jil, Central|
|Hi, Jil in Utah: There is always a certain amount of stress involved with any new addition to the garden. Reducing stress is key to a long-lived healthy plant. Hopefully you have chosen a space where your pine will receive a minimum of six hours of direct sun. They prefer a well-drained soil and you want to avoid adding more root stimulator as well as fertilizer. It is best for the pine to become established in the natural environment, and promoting growth at this time of year is not recommended since the tender new growth is more susceptible to winter damage. As for moisture, your evergreen certainly needs water to encourage the roots to spread out, but at this time of year as the temperatures are cooler and Mother Nature typically gives us sufficient rainfall you will not need to water as much as you would during the hot summer months. At this point you will want to check the moisture level around the root ball. You can do this by sticking your finger in the soil at least a couple of inches. If it is moist then there is no reason to water. Adding a thin layer of mulch (2-3 inches) will help keep the moisture in. Sometimes we can overdo it when it comes to pampering our plants. They are tough and less is better at this time of year. The yellow needles can be an indication of too much moisture, but at this time of year it is perfectly normal for all pines to shed some of their inner foliage in order to make room for new growth.|
|We have a very big boxwood plant in the front yard of our house that we trim to keep the plant looking nice, and when it rains (which will be constant from now until June), the boxwood smells awful! Can you give me a solution to get rid of the smell? If we have to, we'll uproot the boxwood but I'd rather leave it. I just can't stand the smell! Anna, Dundee|
|Hi, Anna in Oregon: Boxwoods (Buxus) are a great low-maintenance evergreen that can tolerate sun or shade and are not too picky about their soil conditions. The downside to these plants is the offensive scent they give off. Many people describe this odor as cat urine and I would have to agree. Unfortunately, this is a natural characteristic and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Some species have a stronger scent than others. I am not sure which one you are growing and there are many species, but in general the sempervirens (English boxwood) species and cultivars are more pungent, especially if they are grown in the sun. If you want to replace it with a less scented species you can plant Buxus microphylla (Japanese boxwood) species and cultivars. Many of these are hybrids between both species so if you really find it offensive you might just end up pulling it out and replacing it with another dwarf evergreen. It seems a shame to lose a healthy established plant but maybe you can find another gardener that would like to have it.|
|We have an 8 x 45 long area we would like to plant evergreens to screen between our driveway and our neighbors. We would really like to keep anything we plant to be about 8 feet at maturity but would be willing to go between 8 and 12 feet max. We don't want to block out his evening sun or make a wall between the two of us, that is why we would like to stay relatively low. I really want a pyramidal evergreen and not a hedge. I have looked at the Hetzii Columnar juniper, Robusta Green juniper, Cryptomaria Black Dragon, and the Hinoki cypress dwarf or compacta. We really don't want an arborvitae. Do you know how any of these do in our area and will one of them do better with keeping within our height requirements? The information varies so much on the Internet as far as size. I think all of these get to be 4-6 feet in width. We would like to plant them about 6 feet apart. The area does have mostly clay soil so I am assuming we would have to amend it with sand? Carol, Louisville|
|Hi, Carol in Kentucky: The Internet is great for research but you have to make sure you are looking at a reputable site. All the evergreens you mentioned are all great choices and they will all do well in Louisville if given adequate growing conditions. As far as amending the soil, you want to avoid using sand since it can actually make the soil more compact. Mr. Natural is a product line that makes great amendments for clay soil. Their complete landscape mix is a mixture of compost as well as Permatill, which is an expanded slate material that helps to break up the clay and improve drainage. All the evergreens you mentioned are sun-lovers and will need full sun to thrive. Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetzii Columnaris’ is a cultivar that is going to be pyramidal in shape. It typically gets to be around 15 feet at maturity but can reach more like 20 feet in 15-20 years so this may be taller than you were hoping for. Juniperus chinensis ‘Robusta Green’ is going to be upright but a bit irregular in habit. It may also be a bit taller than what you were hoping for. It will eventually get 15 feet tall at maturity. It may take several years to grow this tall. Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ is certainly the most unique of the evergreens you are considering. It is pyramidal in growth habit with dark green foliage, nice cones, and is a slow grower. I have not seen any in town that are taller than 6 or 7 feet. Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana gracillis’ is also a slow grower and will reach approximately 6 feet at maturity. As with any new addition to the garden remember that they will need additional moisture to get their roots settled in. Avoid fertilizing for the first year and plant them just as deep and twice as wide as the container they are growing in. Since you are gardening in Louisville I will mention that The Plant Kingdom typically carries these evergreens as well as Mr. Natural products. Sometimes just seeing the evergreens in person is enough to make your decision easier.|
|We have eight large thuja evergreens behind the house, each about 7' tall and each 5 years old. This spring, all their edges have turned brown, the new top spikes are brown, and the trunks appear mottled. Are they dying from the unusual winter (freeze/warmth/etc.), and can they be saved? Please help; they are our privacy border. Mary, Grayson|
|Hi, Mary in Kentucky: There are a few different possibilities when it comes to the tips of evergreens defoliating. The most common would be due to winter burn; this occurs when the new growth is not hardened off in the fall before the winter arrives and this tender growth is essentially burned by the winter temperatures and wind. It also happens if the evergreens go into the winter months without sufficient moisture. If you had a dry fall and the ground froze, the plants would not be able to uptake any water and as a result the tips would burn. Arborvitae are susceptible to a few different fungal problems, including twig blight. Did you notice any fungal spores on the branches or the foliage? If so, you should take a sample to your county Cooperative Extension Service for the horticulture agent to get a positive diagnosis. All plants, including arborvitae, are more prone to insect and disease problems when they are stressed. If they are not giving optimal growing conditions this can result in stress and lead to health problems. Arborvitae prefer to grow in full sun to part shade with nutrient rich soil. Thuja occidentalis (Eastern arborvitae) are more tolerant of poorly drained soil but most prefer soil that is well-drained. The best thing to do now is to have a horticulturist take a look at a sample of your evergreens to determine what is going on and from there they will be able to give you the best treatment options. The Grayson County Web site is http://ces.ca.uky.edu/grayson
or you can reach them at (270) 259-3492.|
|We have holly plants that are beautiful. They had beautiful berries. After four years and after this winter season in the NW, our holly bushes on the north-east side of the house are looking brown, dry, and have dark berries. We have had a very bad winter. They are in clay. We have good growth right now on the bottom of the bushes. What can we do to help these holly bushes survive? Pat, Perrysburg|
|Hi, Pat: Thank you for your question concerning your hollies. If your evergreens were healthy up until now I suspect it is just winter damage. Mother Nature was pretty tough on our gardens this past winter. The foliage that is brown should be removed if it has not already dropped. It unfortunately will not survive. Once evergreens dry up and turn brown it is sometimes too late to help them out. The good news is that if your hollies were healthy before winter arrived they should put on new growth and recover from the stressful winter weather. These evergreens are fine planted in clay as long as it drains well. It sounds like they are already putting on some new growth so make sure that they have sufficient water and if you have not already done so now is a good time of year to fertilize. Holly-tone made by Espoma is an organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Be careful not to over-fertilize since this can potentially burn the plants. They are stressed so give them time to recover and be sure to remove all dead foliage on the plant as well as around the hollies. Since they are planted on the north-east side of the house lack of sunlight could also be a potential problem.|
|We have some evergreen trees bordering the back of our yard that hang over into the neighbor's yard. He is complaining of the pine needles and has hired someone to cut all the branches at his property line all the way up. Will this cause the trees any harm? I'm not sure what type of trees they are. They are at least 30' tall or better. Unfortunately a couple of the trees were planted too close to the fence so some branches may be cut just a few feet from the trunk. Would this cause the tree to become unbalanced? Vicki, Marysville|
|Hello, Vicki: This is a great example of why we have to make informed planting choices. Not to say that you did not since it sounds like you inherited these evergreens, but now it is a problem for both you and your neighbor. Severely pruning the trees back on one side will cause intense stress on them and can have many negative consequences. The most noticeable but least concerning would be the aesthetics of the trees after they are pruned. They will be much more susceptible to wind and storm damage as one side will be much heavier than the other, making them unbalanced to begin with. They will also be more prone to sun scald and as a result cankers and other diseases can form. As a general rule, needled evergreens do not put on new growth after they are pruned, so once the limbs are removed there is no recovery in terms of new growth. In the interest of saving your trees, you might consider having a certified arborist come out and talk to both you and your neighbor. You can contact your County Cooperative Extension Office for local recommendations. Pine needles are great for mulch: you might offer to rake them up in order to save your trees.|
|We have very close two row of Leyland trees. All branches between are very brown. If we pull out one row, we wonder if the dead branches will come back or we need to replace the trees. Juan, Middletown|
|Hello, Juan in new Jersey: Spacing plant material in the landscape with their mature height and width in mind is essential in terms of good air circulation. Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) are susceptible to bagworms and various fungal diseases as well as damage during extreme wind and ice storms. With the foliage on your evergreens only being brown on the side where they are planted too close to the second row of evergreens, it sounds like the problem has more to do with lack of proper air movement. This is a nice environment for insects and disease to thrive so you should take a sample of the foliage to your County Cooperative Extension Service to have the horticulture agent look at just to rule out any other issues. Unfortunately, once evergreens lose their outer foliage it is unlikely that they will produce new growth to replace the lost growth, but really only time will tell. If it were the inner foliage turning brown, this would not be of concern since it is a normal part of an evergreen's life cycle. This is especially true for the Leyland cypress because they are such fast growers that they need to drop some of their foliage in order to make room for new growth. At this point you should remove one row of the cypress and re-evaluate the damage on the ones you would like to keep. You will need to prune off all dead material and remove it from the area to discourage insects and other potential disease issues. If you intend on transplanting the second row of your cypress this can be tricky depending on how tall they are. These evergreens have a shallow root system, so if they are taller than 15-20 feet they may struggle to support themselves after being transplanted. Leyland cypress thrive when planted in full sun, at least six hours each day, and demand well-drained soil.|
|We live in suburban Colorado and have 30 foot tall evergreen trees that are suddenly losing the ends of their branches while they are still green and healthy. What would cause this? Is there a bug or animal that is chewing off the ends? Elly, Aurora|
|Hi, Elly in Colorado: There are a few different possibilities when it comes to the tips of evergreens defoliating. The most common would be due to winter burn; this occurs when the new growth is not hardened off in the fall before the winter arrives and this tender growth is essentially burned by the winter temperatures and wind. It also happens if the evergreens go into the winter months without sufficient moisture. If you had a dry fall and the ground froze, the plants would not be able to uptake any water and as a result the tips would burn. Not knowing exactly what evergreens you are growing I cannot give you specifics in terms of insects and diseases that could potentially be the cause of the defoliation. There are a few different tip borers that affect certain evergreens such as pines, but you can always take a sample to your county Cooperative Extension Service for the horticulture agent to diagnose. Depending on the evergreens you are growing they may or may not put on any new growth to replace the lost. Unfortunately it will be a waiting game but it is a good idea to have someone take a look at a sample to make sure it is not an insect problem that could lead to more damage.|
|We noticed our 15+ year old white pine has started to get brown needles on the underside of the branch on the south side. We don't recall this happening in the past. Should we be concerned about a disease? Jill, Lexington|
|Hi, Jill: It is perfectly normal for white pines (pinus strobes) to drop needles from the previous year's growth. They are considered evergreens but not all needles remain attached to the tree for its entire life. Usually every two to three years these pines will drop all needles except for the current season’s growth.The inner foliage will turn yellow and then brown this time of year (late fall) and then eventually fall from the tree. This is known as seasonal needle drop. New growth will never replace the lost, which is why younger white pines can almost look bare in the winter. This is a perfectly normal process they go through and it may start on the south side but should shortly move throughout the evergreen. If this is only happening on the south side and all the needles, including the current season's growth, are turning brown this would be reason for concern. In some cases environmental conditions can come into play or chemical drift could also be a possibility if the browning is only apparent on one part of the plant. If the overall health of your pine looks good I do not think there is reason to worry. You can always take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Office to have the horticulture agent take a look just to be certain.|
|What evergreen shrub or tree will do best in containers all winter? They will be on an east-facing covered porch getting morning sun about four to five hours in the winter and three to four hours in the summer. Pam, Louisville|
|Hello, Pam: Planting evergreens in a container for a couple of seasons is fine, but most do not want to live their entire lives this way. Ideally we want to transition them into the garden after a couple of years. So, that being said it is really nice to be able to look out in the garden or in your case a porch during the winter months and see a container with greenery in it. From the time of day and the amount of sunlight your space receives, choosing more of a part sun to shade-loving shrub is a good idea. I am not sure what you are thinking about in terms of height or width but the following list are some options: pieris Japonica, aucuba, laurel, taxus, evergreen azaleas, and the good old standby, boxwoods. Pieris would probably be the most finicky in a container, but it is a spring bloomer and the new growth has a copper color to it. The aucuba look more like a tropical with the gold specks on the foliage. Schip laurel are also spring bloomers but grown more for their foliage than anything else. Otto luyken is a shorter growing cultivar. Both the taxus (yew) and the boxwood are very tough plants and are adaptable to most growing conditions. The evergreen azalea would be the most showy of these options, again a spring bloomer. As with any container planting, you want to make sure there is at least one drainage hole in the pot, and that it is filled with a good quality potting mixture made specifically for containers. If the goal is to keep it out year-round it is a good idea to lift it off the ground with pot feet. This will help air circulate under the container and hopefully prevent the container from freezing/cracking. A thin layer of mulch on top of the soil will help insulate the planting during the cold winter months.|
|What would cause an evergreen to turn brown in the middle while the top and bottom remain green? Merry Lou, Kankakee|
|Hello, Merry Lou in Illinois: Not knowing what evergreen you are referring to, I cannot give you specifics in terms of insect and disease issues that your plant may be dealing with. It certainly sounds like your evergreen is under some sort of stress and a sample should be looked at by a professional to prevent further spread. Your County Cooperative Extension Office is always a reliable source to have your plant problems diagnosed. The horticulture agent will be able to rule out and/or identify any insect or disease issues and give you options for control. It is common that evergreens shed their inner foliage to make room for new growth, but from what you have described it sounds like the entire center of the plant has turned brown and this would not be what is known as annual shedding. Unfortunately, when most evergreens turn brown and lose their outer foliage it does not grow back. This of course depends on the genus and may not be true for yours, but this is why it is important to have the problem identified. You can also have a certified arborist come out and take a look if this is a large evergreen tree and you cannot reach the middle of the tree.
|When do pine combs drop from their trees in Flagstaff, Arizona? Carolyn, Burlinton|
|Hello, Carolyn: Covering millions of acres, Flagstaff, Arizona, is home to the National Ponderosa Pine forest. These pine trees are monoecious, meaning that each tree produces both male and female cones. The male cones are smaller and usually found on the lower branches, as opposed to the female cones that are much larger and found higher up in the tree. The male cones will fall from the tree shortly after the pollen is released, sometime in mid to late June, depending on climate and elevation. They tend to drop earlier during warmer weather and later at higher elevations. The female cones will remain on the tree for two years in order to mature. Some years are heavier than others in terms of pine production and this is not fully understood, but thought that climate is a factor. As a Kentucky gardener this is the most detailed information I can provide. If you are looking for more specific dates you can contact the horticulture agent in Coconino County, Arizona. Their Web site http://extension.arizona.edu/coconino
or call them at (928) 774-1868.|
|When is the best time to cut evergreen shrubs back? Willard, Campbellsville|
|Hello, Willard: I am not sure what evergreen shrubs you are growing and they have different time requirements in terms of pruning, so here is some general information. Evergreens are separated into two different categories, narrow-leaved and broad-leaved species. Most evergreens shrubs are pruned during the late winter or early spring. Flowering evergreen shrubs should be pruned after they have finished blooming. Drastic pruning is not recommended for most evergreens because they cannot replace lost growth in the same way that deciduous plants can, so easy does it when it comes time to prune. Prune out dead or diseased branches as soon as you notice them any time of the year. If you are growing evergreen topiaries, they may require more frequent, light pruning to keep them in shape. Older plants with dead lower branches will benefit from being thinned. This will allow more light to penetrate through the plant. Pruning can be done to thin, shape, as well as rejuvenate our plants, but most evergreens will require little to no pruning if planted in a location where they can grow to a mature size. When the time arrives to prune, make sure your tool is clean and sharp.
|Where can I find a list of what grafts are compatible with a limelight cypress? We planted some limelight cypress and they seem to get sunburn on the south-facing trunk, so that no branches grow in that direction. Branches around the rest of the trunk are fine. I thought I might graft some other conifer species onto the bare trunk. I have thujas, Italian cypress, redwood, deodar cedar, Atlas cedar, and green arborvitae in my yard. David, San Jose|
|Hello, David in California: Grafting is a propagation method that growers use to take advantage of certain plant characteristics; not ideal in your situation. Cypress (Cupressus) are typically propagated from seed or cuttings so even if a graft were to take, it would never be vigorous enough to make the evergreens look full and lush again. The real issue is why your cypress are losing their foliage. ‘Limelight’ is a cultivar of Cupressus arizonica: like other members of this genus, they prefer to grow in full sun and well-drained soil. If these are new plantings they may benefit from additional moisture, especially during dry periods. This will prevent sunscald. These plants are subject to cankers in some environments. To rule out any potential insect or disease issues you should take a sample of your cypress to your County Extension Office for the horticulturist agent to look at. You can visit the Santa Clara county Web site at http://cesantaclara.ucanr.edu. California has such a wide range of growing conditions and so it may be best to talk with someone local to see if they have any other insight.|
|Where can I purchase replacements of Gold Mop shrubs of approximately 3 feet in height? Kenneth, Kettering|
|Hello, Kenneth in Ohio: You should be able to find the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ at your local garden centers, they are fairly common plants. The size may be a bit trickier to locate so you may have to ask for them to be special ordered. Some garden centers/nurseries tend to carry larger plant material than others, but unfortunately I am not familiar with any in your area to give you recommendations. It may be that these plants are not available as container-grown options and have to be dug, in which case you might have to wait until the fall to get them. It seems to be easier for the smaller, locally owned businesses to special order plants for their clients since they normally do not have to purchase in such large quantities from their growers. These evergreens are slow growers so purchasing an older, larger plant will be more expensive, but if you are looking for instant gratification or to match existing ones in the garden the money will be well spent. Keep in mind that you will lose the height of the container when the evergreen is put in the ground. This should be taken into account when you talk with any nurserymen and explain to them what you are looking for. Just out of curiosity, do you know why you lost three of them? Make sure you have the right environment for these evergreens to thrive or you will find yourself in the same boat in no time. Chamaecyparis should be grown in full sun (six hours per day) and require well-drained soil but consistent moisture, even as established plants.|
|Why doesn't my Ponderosa trees get pine cones? I have five of them about 10 years old and about 15' to 20' tall. Donald, Keenesburg|
|Hello, Donald in Colorado: Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) is a conifer that is native to western North America. Some years are better than others in terms of cone production and this is not fully understood, but we do know that production depends on age as well as elevation and climate. It may be that your evergreens are not mature enough to produce cones yet. Even though they are around 10 years old this is considered young for these trees that on average start producing cones as young as 7 years old and continue for 350 more years. The cones they will eventually produce are actually organs necessary for reproduction. Ponderosa pine trees are monoecious, meaning that each tree produces both male and female cones. The male cones produce pollen and are smaller. They are usually found on the lower branches, as opposed to the female cones that are much larger and found higher up in the tree. The male cones will fall from the tree shortly after the pollen is released, sometime in mid to late June, depending on climate and elevation. They tend to drop earlier during warmer weather and later at higher elevations. The female cones, which contain seeds, will remain on the tree for two years in order to mature. When the cones become mature they fall off and break open or break down, allowing the seeds inside to be dispersed either by wind or sometimes birds. At this point it is just a waiting game until your trees are old enough to produce cones.|
|Why is the top of our Vanderwolf pine tree turning brown? This has been a healthy tree for the four years we've had it. Joanne, Minerva|
|Hello, Joanne: When did you first notice the browning at the top of your pine? If it has been there all season it could be winter burn, which is caused by lack of moisture and freezing soil temperatures. If the plant did not have adequate moisture before the ground froze the pine would have been very susceptible to winter burn. How many hours of sunlight is it getting each day? These pines will perform best when planted in a space where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. They are adaptable to soil conditions but prefer moist, well-drained sites. These evergreens are not susceptible to many insect or disease problems; inadequate moisture levels are the most common problem with these evergreens. Unfortunately once evergreens turn brown there is little we can do to reverse the problem. These pines are unique with their bluish-green with twisted needles. To rule out any insect problems you can take a sample of the pine to your County Cooperative Extension Service. For now make sure the pine is getting enough moisture and clean up any fallen plant debris. The Stark County Extension Service Web site is stark.osu.edu
or you can reach the horticulture agent at: (330) 830-7700.||