The Q&A Archives: Arizona Cypress Root Problems

Question: I have a row of 10 Arizona Cypress trees I planted from 5 gallon containers 3 years ago. They are currently 10-12 feet tall. The soil is a moist sandy loam in planter next to grass area. One of the trees suddenly stopped growing. I noticed that it was beginning to lean a bit. I Found that there was literally no root ball remaining. Compared to the others. I dug around the root ball and found only 1 large lateral root with a diameter of 3/8" max. The remaining roots were small capillary sized. I looked a the soil in the root ball and noticed 10-20 3"-5" earthworms. There appeared to be nothing else present. The tree immediately to the right of it appears to be developing the same softness around the root ball. The tree trunk can be moved from side to side.

Any suggestions?

Answer: The symptoms sound suspiciously like root rot, especially considering the cypresses are planted near a grassy area that is frequently watered. If you're using a sprinkler system, try to redirect the water so it doesn't include the soil where your cypress trees are planted. If you hand-water, don't apply water to the soil around the trees more often than once each week during the growing season. Other than drying out the soil, there's not much else to offer. If the cypress are otherwise healthy, they should recover once the soil dries out a bit. Good luck with your trees!

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