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.
The Gardener’s Answer
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.