The Q&A Archives: Brown top on Soquel Coast Redwood

Question: I have three redwood 5ft apart. The center tree began to turn brown on the top about a month ago, and now it is down about 2ft from the top. I added iron, cottonseed and greensand to the soil. What should I do to save the tree, and will it spread to the other trees?

Answer: Browning tops usually indicate root distress, either due to over or under watering, poor drainage, or excess fertilizer build up. It's difficult to diagnose the problem without seeing the plant in question. If the tree is small, dig it up and inspect the roots; healthy roots are creamy white inside - dead roots are brown or rusty colored. If the roots are mushy, the drainage is poor and needs to be improved before replanting the tree. Look also for signs of insects, abnormal growths or galls on the roots, etc. Before replanting, amend the soil with organic matter to facilitate good drainage. Hope these suggestions help!

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