The Q&A Archives: Diseased double twisted ornamental cypress problem

Question: I purchased two double twisted 5-6 ft. ornamental trees from my local nursery Rainbow Gardens in East TN about two years ago. I have one tree that was reset around May because it wasn't low enough. Recently (about two-three weeeks ago) I put landscape weed mat down and cut out away from the tree about an eight inch radius for the bottom of the tree and put back my pine staw mulch.

Soon after this, one tree looks dried out. I checked for bugs, but I do not see any sign. This is a $300.00 tree. Please help! It strange, one bottom section looks completely fine and green. However, the other 85% off the tree is getting dried out and limp.

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain what is happening. If the one that has turned brown is the one that was reset, it may be due to root loss and transplant shock, or to lowering its level too far -- planting too low can cause problems with the roots which then show as foliage symptoms. There might also be a problem with your watering, since it was replanted it would need to be carefully watered as though a new plant. The soil should be kept slightly damp like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not bone dry. Although mulch will help keep the soil moister longer, it is not a substitute for checking the soil and watering as needed. I do not think the typical weed mat per se would be causing the problem as long as it is pervious to both air and water -- but a solid plastic sheet would not allow enough air or water to reach the plants' roots. If the plant that is drying out is the shrub that was not replanted, it could possibly be due to encircling roots below ground that have failed to root out into the surrounding soil. Since I have not seen the plants it is difficult to diagnose what has happened. I would strongly suggest you work with your local professional nursery staff and/or county extension to try to save your plant. Good luck!

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