Ron & Gloria Asked
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?
The Gardener’s Answer
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.