The Q&A Archives: Foliage color

Question: I recently purchased (2) two rheingold arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)clipped into a topiary trees from Classic Gardens in Birmingham, AL, shipped from your gardens. Actually purchased this summer. I just loved the bright green foliage and how it accented the landscape. When these were planted I made sure the holes were of adequate size, used good top soil, & purchased two types of root stimulator recommended by Classic, one that was added to the soil when planted and one liquid where I added 3-1/2 Tbs. to one gallon of water for three weeks. I realize that the descriptions indicated that the foliage would change to a coppery-gold in winter, but the foliage looks more brown than coppery-gold, with a big dead looking spot on the side of one. I have been most diligent in caring for these by following the instructions to the letter, so I am at a loss on what more I can do. We have not experienced any cool weather here yet and these were planted & watered as recommended per the information on your tag. They were quite expensive, so I am very concerned that they might be dying. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Answer: Ginger,

Summer is a stressful time to establish plants in the south. The key is to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet at both extremes of soil moisture will be very detrimental to the plants. I think if you can dig down a few inches to feel the soil around the root ball and water accordingly that will be the best guide at least until they have a year to really get better established.

Since the brown area is on one side I wonder if it could be due to some other cause...sunburn, damage from a spray of some sort, etc.? Nevertheless, your best bet is to keep the soil moist and give them time. With fall coming they should be able to get better established with less stress and then come out fine next spring.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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