Bald Cypress Problems

auhort1990(8a)August 24, 2010

We have several Bald Cypress in two different locations or properties that have some problems. In one location the symptoms are very chlorotic leaves almost white in color. The chlorosis looks to start in the inner part of the leaves but not all the time. For example on one leaf the chlorosis may start in the middle of the leaf. Is this iron deficiency? Some brown tips.

In the other location the cypress leaves are just turning brown. They have looked like this almost all summer. They have asiatic jasmine planted under them but I believe they are getting enough water. The leaves look to be turning brown starting from the outside of the leaves and eventually dieing all the way back. I know a picture of both of these would be helpful but I can't get one today.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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No answer here but I interested in your question very much. I experienced the bleaching effect you described on a Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia)--cousin to the Bald Cypress. My Bald Cypress was fine (even though both were in very similar circumstances). Well, this Spring, the Dawn Redwood just turned completely burn on the top third. There was no subsequent regrowth and I eventually removed the tree. I have heard that DR's are very sensitive to things like road salts. At first I just thought it was due to a heat wave in early April but then when it did not recuperate, I suspected it was something in the soil that was bothering it (neighbor has a pool that is not that far away). Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:07AM
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On the browning of bald cypress, I've seen young ones doing that this summer, both my tiny ones planted last fall and some that appear to be 5-8 years old in various landscape plantings. When we finally got a good rain, they greened up. It was just too hot and we didn't get enough rain. My five nanjing beauties (BC X MC) have just sat there burning up all summer. One looked 100% DEAD, but put out new growth and leaves after we got about 1" of rain.

As far as the DR and BC getting pale, a few of mine have done that. I just extended the mulch ring out to 3' and poured a little blue-box miracle grow. I figure they'll adapt to the PH in my clay (with the aide of mulch decomposing over the years) or they won't thrive and I'll pull them. All of mine were planted as bare-root whips, so it's not a major investment. (I'm more concerned about my soil depth for the DRs so they can reach their potential. The BC will eventually take off.)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I believe they are getting enough water

====>>>> your 'belief' might not be good enough ....

i would go dig a small hole near each of them.. 6 to 8 inches down .. and FIND OUT if there is any water or moisture in the soil ... down in the root zone ...

and then.. when you report back.. give us some additional facts like how old are they.. how big.. when planted[recently??] ... soil type.. and general weather for this summer .... ANYTHING that might help us define your issue ...

i just went thru 8 weeks of intense drought ... and high heat .... all my trees and conifers look bad ... and its related to the drought .... but drought stress would not be diagnostic for clorosis ... or bugs.. etc ....

only a soil test thru your county Ag office.. will help you delineate if anything is lacking in your soil ....

so give us some more facts ...


    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 12:33PM
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They are irrigated. The soil in the second area is somewhat sandy loam (backfill) and the first area where they are chlorotic is mostly clay.

The chlorotic or bleached out trees were planted two years ago as 1 1/2 inch caliper. They are now about 15 feet tall and about 2 - 2 1/2 inch caliper trees.

The second area trees were planted 3 years ago as 1 1/2 inch caliper and have not grown much at all...if any.

It has been extremely hot here with 50+ days over 90 and I would dare say most have been 95 or higher.

I have checked for spider mites, borers and any other noticable insects and there are none.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 1:35PM
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From living in a dry area with alkaline clay soil - some bald cypress seem to adapt ok to alkaline soil and some do not. Others seem to do fine in alkaline soil while it is moist, and then when hot and dry comes along they show chlorosis. Under stress, some give up the ghost. Bald Cypress sourced from the Tx. hill country should be adapted to alkaline conditions and hot & dry better than any other Bald Cypress.
It is impossible to over-water bald cypress (well almost). They should be able to take the heat if plenty of water is available and they are not weakened from too high of a soil pH.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 1:35PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Where do you live?

How much water and how often do you water them? I have this Montezuma-bald hybrid cypress growing in rocky limestone soil. All I had to do was give it slow deep watering every once in a while. It looks great.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 5:57PM
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Montgomery Alabama. We water once per week. The thing is, on another corner of this particular property (its a parking deck) we have another bald cypress that look wonderful. It has the same soil type and the same amount of irrigation.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 7:01PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Ok. That rules out alkalinity problem. Alabama more or less gets plenty of rainfall compared to where I live.

I'm stumped....

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 7:50PM
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I have three baldcypress in the ground for 9 years now. The tallest is about 16 feet and 5 inches in diameter. It has been browning slowly for a month or more. Yesterday I noticed that most of the leaves--small fronds--had fallen off. But the top and the ends of the branches still have some green.

I thought they were drought resistant, and had not thought to water them. We are having a very serious drought here--since May we have had two rains of any note. There was one 2.25 ince rain about 6 weeks ago, and about 4 weeks ago we had .7. Lots of things have been showing stress. So I guess it has been the lack of water. We also had 7 days at or near 100 degrees. I gave all three a really deep soaking today. I assume the one in the worst condition will recover, but may be weakened. A second had turned half brown, and the third has just lost the nice green color, but it is still a pale green, mostly.

So, I guess I really overestimated these trees' drought resistance. How good are they in droughts? Will my trees resist droughts better when they are older? I thought they had been in the ground long enough. I assume they are in good, deep soil, but I may have one or two other places on my land that have better soil.

We have had droughts before. Last year we had one period of 37 days with no rain. They were fine then, but this year has been worse.

What do you guys think? Will my baldcypress do better the next time we have a drought this bad? Or will I have to watch them every year and water?? what have you observed?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:13PM
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I think it's soil type really. I think we take some of that survival skill away when we plant them in our yards or other landscapes vs where they grow naturally. (Just casual, non-expert observation)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:15AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


It's typical for bald cypress to fade away toward the end of the summer if it's very hot and dry in Dallas area. Some years they look better than other years. Usually, occasionally deep watering will keep them looking healthy.

Dallas area went through severe drought (16 inches of rain in 2005 and 24 inches in 2006) and bald cypress came back anyway. My guess dropping needles early is a survival mechanism. I think you're confused with drought tolerance thing. It should be stated that bald cypress is significantly more drought tolerant than previously thought but not very drought hardy like oak trees.

Another thing, I've notice that drought tolerance varies a bit between cypress trees. Some do better than others.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 12:16PM
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There 2 or 3 bald cypress growing at Ft. Hood by the gates that are on top of hill in dry hard caliche clay with limestone. Area gets 30" annually. Bald Cypress were the worst possible choice for these spots, yet the trees are alive and apparently surviving. About 20' tall. They often shed all or most foliage by end of summer if particularly hot and dry.
Do think dought tolerance improves with age up to a point.
Some good points noted above.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 2:01PM
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lou and scotjute:

Thanks--it looked like the worst of the three baldcypress trees was going through some natural adjustment to the drought. The tips of the branches and the top of the tree were still green. But what worried me is that 95%--maybe more--of the foliage was lost. And it is still August, not September. You say it will come back? I gave all three trees a deep soaking--enough to take them through the fall. I hope this will not do more harm than good. I was afraid, with the drought getting worse and a dry period forecast for the next two weeks, the stress could be too much for them.

I had thought baldcypress were drought resistant because of my observations of some planted in Washington, D.C. They are larger, older trees that are growing on sites that seem relatively dry, but I don't know the soil and what the ultimate water supply might be. But they seemed like tough old trees and never showed any signs of stress, even in dry periods. But there was never any drought there in the 30 years I lived there anything like what we have here now.

What do you think? With my trees here, did I do good? or bad?


    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 10:29PM
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My bald cypress go through summer dormancy nearly every summer;
there are 3 of them, & 1 always looks better than the others.

They've been in the ground for about 15 years.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:05PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I was at the farm market in another town and I walked around the downtown and found these old bald cypress. The trunks are 2-3 feet wide and they are in the parking lot. I don't see how that's possible for them to remain that green. I was surprised to find these bald cypress that large in that area. Interesting...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:54PM
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You cannot overwater bald cypress. Your trees may not put on new leaves this year, but should come out again in the spring. Leaf shedding is something they do to cope with hot dry weather.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:46PM
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Lou and scotjute:

Thanks--I have been a close observer of baldcypress for a long time, and it is one of my favorite trees, but I still have some things to learn. I have seen this kind of thing on my trees before, but not nearly as bad as this. My watering stopped then foliage loss, and I feel confident, expecially after what you have said, that the worst one will be OK. One other looked moderately bad, and a third did not show that much loss.

One of my observations when I lived in D.C. was a trio of baldcypress planted in front of the Natural History Museum. These were nice, but not especially large, older trees. At one point, someone decided that the Mall area should have rows of elms exclusively. They removed some trees and replaced them with elms. At about that time they put down around these baldcypress trees some kind of fine sand/clay mixture as a kind of "pavement." I guess water could, to some extent, penetrate this, but it seemed to me to be an attempt to kill these trees so the could keep the geometry of the rows of elms more pure. I think they were afraid that if they just cut down the trees as they had some others, they would get too many complaints. Anyway, the trees suffered for a time, and one had about 15 feet of its top die back. But...hah!..they all survived. I was impressed with their toughness.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:27PM
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I live in North Texas and this summer is a scorcher! We're going on 44 days strait of 100 degree plus temperatures and no rain in the past 30 days or the next two weeks with no relief in site. Both of my bald cypress trees are 6 years old and they are both turning brown. I'm watering them at least twice a week giving them each about 4 buckets of water each time. Should I water/spray the whole tree down at dusk? Are they dying?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 11:38PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Jay Texas,

You don't say how large your buckets are, and we don't know what your soil drainage is like. My guess, unless you have really big buckets, is that the trees are not getting nearly enough water. Spraying the tree down is not the solution. Dig down into the soil and test for soil moisture. Base the amount of water you supply on your findings. My guess is that they need a lot more water.

BTW, if you want more info or have more questions, you might consider starting a new thread. That way the OP doesn't get a bunch of responses unrelated to his original concern, it will make the thread less confusing for future searches, and it will keep everyone from having to read through the old posts to get to your new one.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 12:21AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Jay Texas,

I don't think you're giving your bald cypress trees enough water. 2 inches of water would saturate 12-16 inches depth of ground which would take 1200 gallons of water per 1000 sqft of ground.

Leave the hose out at the top of the lawn at barely trickling flow for hours at a time to slowly soak deep into the ground. You could try a short soaker hose and leave it in straight line at the top and let it slowly soak in and slowly flow down to the bottom of the lawn if your lawn is sloped.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 5:00PM
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Jay Texas,
I have 5 remotely planted bald cypress that I carry water to weekly along with pecan trees. These tree are 2 ft. tall and get ~25 gallons a week. They are surviving not thriving (top few leaves are green, rest are brown). My trees are mulched and the soil is clay, both of which help to maintain moisture longer before drying out. Your 6' trees would obviously need more than these if that helps any. Remember, it is almost impossible to over-water bald cypress.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 10:43AM
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I just had a dozen bald cypress 16' tall planted at our condo community in St.Pete Fl. The city suggests it as a planting. These trees arrived in 25 gln pots with their biggest roots chopped to the pot.

A nursery planted all and I have watered continuously and fed them well.
Several had a severe shock and browned considerably. Some have browned(hard) from the top. Some looked great and have loss their color slowly. Some look fine.
All have received the same attention and love...I even talk to them and praise their beauty...what the hell.
However, I have began to see some new growth on a few. Even on a severely challenged one.

It has been very hot in St.Pete but there has been much rain, upwards of 12" so far in Aug.
Can I expect they will survive even with continued watering and rain?
What will be a sign I can truly know?
Thanks Edrus

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 3:14PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Bald cypress have the advantage of being a le to drop their foliage when stressed. I bet most of yours do ok with continued attention.

Its gonna be difficult to over water bald cypress. Probably the right thing to do is stick your fingers into the rootball and make sure the water is getting in there. Sometimes different soils do weird things. Then let the soil dry to normal before watering again.

Don't feel bad if not 100% make it. Summer can be difficult on trees and transplants

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 9:52PM
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