Browning Of Inner Branches Of Cedar Bushes - Knowledgebase Question

Philadelphia, PA
Question by merkine
April 12, 2000
I have a small terrace, and so we are doing container gardening. I bought two gread cedar bushes, one blue-green in color, the other dark green with lighter green tips. While they originally appeared to be thriving, they are lately turning more and more brown in the center, and I fear that I will lose them both. Could I have the roots too much in a ball, or do they need specific fertilization? Watering is not the issue.

Answer from NGA
April 12, 2000


Unfortunately, based on your description, I am not exactly certain what type of plant you have. If they are truly cedars (Cedrus) then they would do best in a moist yet well drained soil. Native cedars (Juniper types) would need a slightly drier soil. Either over or underwatering could cause the symptoms you are describing. Of the two, the true cedars are very sensitive to transplanting and might be objecting to that; the other possibility, if you replanted them, is that they are planted deeper than they originally grew and this could cause browning. Another possible cause would be if there is a bad match between the original soil and the new soil. Container growing can be very tricky, both in terms of watering and in terms of getting the soil mix right in terms of drainage. In terms of fertilizing, fresh potting soil usually contains enough to sustain the plants for a while, after that a regular regime of either compost and/or a water soluble fertilizer according to the label instructions should be sufficient. When repotting, the roots should be unwound if they are potbound, and then spread gently through the hole, the soil worked down between them and gently tamped with your hands. The soil should match the original soil level and then the plant should be watered to settle the soil and remove any air bubbles. Finally, both cedars and junipers are subject to root rots, so that is another possibility. I hope this gives you some ideas for troubleshooting.

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