The Q&A Archives: A Sad Japanese Cryptomeria

Question: Hello. We recently purchased a japanese cryptomeria which has started to turn brown on what appears to be new growth. In addition, branches are turning brown and drying out. There are some spots on the tree, and we're wondering if perhaps this is a fungus rather than a case of the soil just being too dry, too much sun, etc.
Any ideas?
Thanks for your help!

Marie Bearden

Answer: Cryptomeria are beautiful plants. Their foliage changes from green to a purplish color in the winter months but then changes back to green in the spring. Brown, tan, or rusty colored foliage is not a good thing! It usually indicates water stress. Cryptomeria requires fast draining soils and needs at least one deep soaking per week (twice if the tree is small and the weather is hot). Since the tips of the branches (new growth) is most affected, I'd guess the soil is too dry. Try building a watering basin or watering well beneath the plant. Fill the basin with water, allow to drain, then fill a second time. This will concentrate the moisture directly over the root mass and allow it to trickle down, wetting the entire root system. Do this once a week - twice if the weather is really hot. Hope this helps your tree recover!

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