Ask a Question forum→Are my Emerald cedars dying?! Help!

Views: 1493, Replies: 11 » Jump to the end
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 20, 2020 4:45 PM CST
Hi all,

I fear my Emerald Cedars are dying! They are losing their leaves from the bottom up.

We do not have dogs and I see no afids or spider mites.

The trees were planted in June 2015 and they have done beautifully until this spring.

We live in toronto and it has been a very long winter this year but not particularly cold or unusually snowy or icey.

This is a south facing garden and it get tons of sun all summer long. The trees in question run along the west side border of the garden. The trees on the east side are not having this problem. I do not add nutrients to these trees, just water.

What is happening? Help.

Thanks!

Thumb of 2020-05-20/perennialgarden/2c0b3b


Thumb of 2020-05-20/perennialgarden/d09b14


Thumb of 2020-05-20/perennialgarden/570da0


Thumb of 2020-05-20/perennialgarden/958c19

[Last edited by perennialgarden - May 20, 2020 4:46 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2245787 (1)
Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
Quitter's never Win
Hummingbirder Birds Organic Gardener Dog Lover Cat Lover
oneeyeluke
May 21, 2020 1:51 AM CST
NO fertilizer needed because your trees are adjusting to the seasons. You have to dig down beside the trees and get to know your soil better. Is it too Wet or too Dry? That is the problem you are dealing with now. If the ground is dry about a foot down then your trees are dealing with lack of moisture. If your ground is too Wet then you need to remove all the debris and aerate the soil well with a cultivator and keep the soil loose around the base of the plant.

All that being said, I think you trees are very thirsty and are entering into drought state. I can't be for sure, because I can't feel the soil like you can. So get out there and put on your knee pads and find out which it is, too Dry or too Wet. It they are too dry, get the water hose out and hand water them deeply.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 21, 2020 12:17 PM CST
Thank you for this advice Oneeyluke....I was wondering about that since I know there is not a very deep layer of earth beneath these trees....there is a layer of gravel not far below.

Also I discover today, the first nice day, that the trees are absolutely full of millions teeny tiny little flies that swarm out when you touch the trees! Is this something concerning do you think? We always have an abundance of these tiny flies (they look like micrtoscopic mosquitos) in this neighbouthood in the spring but have not noticed them in such multitudes within the trees!

Thanks again!



Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 21, 2020 1:59 PM CST
Too much or too little water would have an effect on the entire tree, not just a small part. It's obvious your trees are otherwise healthy. I don't see anything that points toward a water problem.

I see there is a shrub planted in front of the trees. Did you cut it back? If that shrub shaded the now bare areas in the trees, then this is the problem. Although arborvitae will grow in part shade just fine, they won't tolerate dark, or constant close foliage contact with other plants. This will happen as your trees grow wider and begin to touch each other, too. When you cut the shrub back, you may have noticed those areas of the trees were not as thick green. It is a common, natural occurrence for any plant to grow thick and tight in strong light and thin and loose in weaker light.

The tree foliage that was behind the shrub also adapted to the protection from weather (sun, wind, moisture loss) offered by the shrub. Suddenly when you cut the shrub down, that protection disappeared. If you cut the shrub at the end of the summer or fall, that foliage had no time to adapt and build the resistance it needs to survive the winter. So it fried.

But not to worry. Your trees are very healthy. In a few years, that bald area will start to fill in, as long as that shrub does not shade the area.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
Quitter's never Win
Hummingbirder Birds Organic Gardener Dog Lover Cat Lover
oneeyeluke
May 22, 2020 2:16 AM CST
How many Emerald cedars have you planted in your life LeftWood? I have planted about 50 in my life time and have taken care of them for quite a few years as a landscaper. Most infestations and diseases start when a cedar is water stressed. If the water stress continues then the the trees will get worse. If the wood on the bottom dies it won't grow back period. The bugs will leave when the conditions change in the season.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 22, 2020 6:36 PM CST
Since you ask, I've planted more than a hundred Cedars (Thuja), but probably only 10% of those were Emerald Greens. Maintained about 50 also, and 15 for more than 40 years in several locations.

This is not the place to argue. Please feel free to treemail me for a civil discussion, and I would be happy to further detail my credentials.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 25, 2020 7:58 AM CST
Thank you very much Leftwood for this alternate theory.
In fact those shrubs become large hydrangeas with huge pink balls which completely cover the bottom of the trees from sun.
I cannot bear to remove them they are so lovely all summer long but will leaving them cause further/greater damage?
What do you suggest? I'd rather lose the hycdrangeas than lose my trees!
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 25, 2020 8:00 AM CST
Thank you very much Leftwood for this alternate theory.
In fact those shrubs become large hydrangeas with huge pink balls which completely cover the bottom of the trees from sun.
I cannot bear to remove them they are so lovely all summer long but will leaving them cause further/greater damage?
What do you suggest? I'd rather lose the hycdrangeas than lose my trees!
I bc attach a photo of last summer's garden and you can see how dense those incredibili hydrangeas are
Thumb of 2020-05-25/perennialgarden/b80ba9

Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 25, 2020 3:16 PM CST
A really nice garden, I must say!

I still don't think your Emerald Green arborvitae are suffering at all. The hydrangea aren't damaging the trees' health, but they are modifying the growth. Wherever the tree branches are shaded heavily, growth will be thin or lacking. You might have noticed that the trees' branches aren't nice and green where they are against the fence (and dark), either. This is normal. When branches and leaves don't receive enough light to make enough energy to support themselves, the tree shuts them down.

So it is not that you need to choose between the hydrangea or the Emerald Greens to grow, but you have to accept that wherever the tree branches are heavily shade, they will be thin or withering. You could trim out the other lower branches of the arborvitaes to match the bald spots caused by the hydrangea. This would give your garden a completely different look, both summer and especially winter, so you will need to decide what you want. If you just let things be as is, the problem (which is only aesthetic) will continue. Every garden is dynamic, and constantly evolves. No garden is static (unless it is plastic foliage and flowers). Another possibility, if you like hydrangea, you could replace the present ones with a dwarf variety that stays smaller in stature.

By the way, I grew up in Minnesota, and knew the wild arborvitae as White cedars. "Cedar" is a colloquial name we northerners have for arborvitae, even though they are not the true cedars that grow in warmer climates.

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 25, 2020 4:35 PM CST
Oh Leftwood!
Thank you SO much, you have made my day! Of course you are absolutely right. In fact I have been taking note of the other trees and indeed the backs of the trees that are up against the fence (no light) are similarly thinning.

What a huge relief! I think that if this is just aesthetic and isn't hurting the tree I will leave the situation as is until the fall then will consider what to do about the hydrangeas. They are make work as they get so much sun they need almost daily watering in summer.

And thank you for the garden compliment. We are very pleased having created this space from nothing when we bought the house in 2015....it was an utterly abandoned space with dead grass and no plants at all.

I will be sure to come back to you for other advice.

All the best to you--stay safe!

Ruth



Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 26, 2020 4:44 PM CST
There are lots of good people here on these forums. We all have our areas of experiences and sometimes expertise. My point is that next time if you have a question, the right answer might not come from me. Smiling
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers. - Socrates
Name: Ruth
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 6a)
perennialgarden
May 29, 2020 10:15 AM CST
Yes of course, I was sort of forgetting it is a forum with numerous individuals available to offer advice.

Thanks again

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by IrisLilli and is called "Water Lily"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.