The Q&A Archives: Spirial Trees

Question: I was wondering on spirial trees I just planted late fall. They seem to have a tint of rust color to them. Is this normal?

Answer: There are a number of different plants that can be used for the spiral topiary treatment. Some of these could naturally change color with the cold weather and others would not. You might want to check with the supplier and see what type of tree/shrub was used and if this is a normal seasonal color change for that particular plant. When the color changes and it is not a normal seasonal change, then it is usually an indication of a problem. This could be a sign of an insect or disease problem or could be an indication that the plant has been allowed to dry out and is suffering from the lack of moisture. The soil for most topiary varieties should be kept evenly moist but not sopping wet, and although the soil does stay moister longer in cold weather, the soil should be watered as needed to keep it moist until the ground freezes for the season. Exposure to wind or heat reflecting off of a building or paved area can also make the drying effect worse. In some cases it can be helpful to erect a windbreak for the first winter or two after planting until the roots have become well established. Since I am unable to give you a specific diagnosis of the problem, you might want to check with the nursery where you bought the plants and possibly also with your county extension to see if they can help you determine the cause of the browning and suggest what to do. Good luck with your topiaries.

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