Pruning: Troubled weeping nootka cypress

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by ameuris, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    Hello! I have a Weeping False Nootka that was transplanted seven years ago and has been thriving until this spring. It was a particularly cold, long winter in the Niagara region and I have noticed some other nootkas nearby that show similar stress. The sheltered side of the tree (away from open field) seems all right but the other half has many brown branches as do parts of in the centre of the tree. Is the damage likely caused by the combination of cold and wind? (In other years, the tree showed no response to the same windy conditions.) Should I fertilize? Should I prune the brown branches? It is a particularly beautiful, well shaped tree and I would hate to lose it and so would appreciate any advice you could offer. I hope I have hit the correct forum.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Can you add some photos?
     
  3. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    I hope I did this correctly. I have three jpg files uploaded and showing in the attach files window. In the preview, I don't see the pictures so I don't know if I missed a step. One photo is the good side of the tree, one is the bad side and the third is the inside. Thank you again.
     

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  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Was it removed from the pot before planting? I can see the rim of a large pot in pic #2; if the whole pot is still there hidden underground, the tree will run out of water in dry weather, causing the foliage to dry out slowly and die.
     
  5. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    Hi! Thanks for looking at the pictures. No it is not a pot. The tree was never in a pot. We transplanted it from a location at the back of the yard about six years ago. The black rim you see is a divider to keep the grass out. The tree has thrived until this year. My question remains whether to leave it alone, prune it, fertilize it, remove the "grass guard" or do some kind of nootka dance around it. Thanks
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    OK thanks! Has there been any 'different' weather in the last year or so (drought, or excessive rain, or abnormal heat or cold)?
     
  7. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    Hi! Yes, it was an an unusually cold and long winter, compared to previous years in the Niagara area. There was damage done to the vineyards as well. And so I have a pretty good idea of what caused the trouble for the tree, but don't know what the solution may be. Thanks for replying.
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That could well be it, particularly if the cold wasn't accompanied by deep snow. Nootka Cypress foliage is tolerant of severe cold, but its surface roots are not: where it occurs wild, it usually gets reliable deep winter snow to protect the root system*. If the surface roots were killed by cold, that would have much the same effect as a drought (as it cuts the tree's ability to take up water), with the older, less important inner foliage sacrificed in favour of the more important outer foliage, much as yours shows.

    Best hope is to wait and see. The roots should regenerate, but it may be a slow recovery - expect a few years of slow growth before the canopy regains its density.

    I'd have been more worried if it had been hot + wet summer conditions, as that is favourable to Phytophthora root disease; similar symptoms in the crown, but not reversible as the disease would continue and lead to the tree's ultimate death.

    * Currently a serious problem for the species in the wild, where climate change has resulted in decreasing snow cover, and resulting tree death.
     
  9. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    Thank you Michael F. Should I give it extra water? Should I add mulch to the base of the tree? May I cut off the brown branches? I thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Mulch would help, as long as it is something loose and well aerated like conifer needle duff. I'd doubt there is much point in adding extra water, as water take-up needs new roots, not extra water.

    You could trim out dead foliage if you want to, but it'd be tedious work and it will fall naturally over the next few months anyway. I'd just leave it to drop and join the mulch.
     
  11. ameuris

    ameuris New Member

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    Thank you once again. It's great to have this forum.
     

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