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Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

Posted by foodfiend_gardener DE (My Page) on
Thu, May 22, 14 at 21:32

I planted 2 of these in late November (zone 7, coastal DE). New site, new topsoil, etc. We had a more severe winter than normal, and one of the trees shows several dead branches. I fertilized with Holly Tone in late March. A couple of weeks ago I pruned the dead branches (wiping the shears with rubbing alcohol after each cut) and burnt them. Less than 2 weeks later, more branches are starting to show the same symptoms.

ps- can't get the photo to rotate, so the tree is lying on its side...

Any idea what could be causing this? They are beautiful, 10' tall, and an anchor to my landscape plan. I am unfamiliar with these as we just moved into the area from a more northern climate. Any help/ suggestions would be appreciated!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

you dont mention your zone...

that is what my experiments with such did.. as they died over 3 mild winters ... IN ZONE 5 MI...

super large transplants.. transplant shock ...

horrible winter... winter damage ... perhaps from improper watering for the size of the transplant ...

and probably throw in some shipping and handling damage along the way ...

there most likely.. was nothing worth burning it... disease rarely thrives during winter ... nor between nov planting and now ..

damage to conifers... evergreens... happened long ago ... you are just now.. as temps increase.. seeing the tissue desiccate and brown ... and if it happened in winter.. that answers most of the issue ...

if you replace it.. go about half size ...

ps: with the lushness of the lawn.. i presume it is fert'd .. this plant.. will NEVER need to be fed... its a tree.. not a child.. and food solves nothing ... except the potential of over fert it ... however.. this has nothing to do with the result you are seeing ..

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

Ken covered just about everything, but I think it's rough handling from it's journey from the wholesale nursery to the hole it's planted in and it's just now showing damage with the warmer temps.
It will recover. It's not a disease.
Delaware is not too cold for it. All of mine have seen temps in the single digits F. and have shown no signs of injury in over thirty years.

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

Thank you both for your suggestions. I keep looking for signs of disease and insects, but see none, so it most likely is transplant shock. We supervised the planting, and didn't have any lack of water (in the form of rain and snow) from then until now.

I did spray with WiltPruf after they were planted, although I'm thinking that could only have helped?

Because we planted a lot of evergreens, I just HollyTone-d the lot of them in early April. The guy at the nursery told me that it was pretty much a miracle for this type of plant, but I didn't see the miraculous results. ;)

The lush lawn is a result of... not being mowed! It was sodded in December, and is just now taking off. :)

Another question- should I continue to remove the browned branches? Once they look like this, they never come back, correct? Or not?

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

really.. this was done by professionals??? .. i presumed you .. though i didnt want to straight out accuse you of having it hang out the back of a yugo doing 60 mph down the freeway ... lol ..

why did they not plant it plumb???

or is that a camera trick??? maybe the house in the pic is off kilter???


RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

Yes remove the dead branches.
No, it's not a disease at all so you don't need to try to decontaminate anything.
Cryptos are at least zn 6 hardy (in the sense I've literally seen mature ones in zn 6 with my own eyes, whatever they are rated) with a big "however". The however is that in a spot they are happy, they are tough. In a spot they are not happy, or after an upsetting horticutural experience (planting or transplanting) they can be a bit of a prima donna. When they are unhappy they shed branches like this. They want good, deep soil, a fairly cool root zone, and an absence of major droughts. (Japan basically doesn't have them)
Please a rule of thumb...DO NOT fertilize permanent plants in their first year. I don't care WHAT the guy at the nursery says. I hate to say it but I've been growing plants longer than a lot of them. The first year the plant needs to work for its sustenance and put out some roots. They WERE fertilized at the wholesaler, I can guarantee it. Wholesalers need to plump the plants up and get them out the door. There are oddball exceptions but cryptos are not one of them. After the first year? Now I assume you have sandy soil down there, so infrequent, light fertilization might be a good idea. One of the best looking cryptos I ever saw was in an old neighborhood of Virginia Beach so the sand is not a problem..but again that plant was actually in a city median, and probably didn't get coddled when it was young. Its roots probably went under the road into peoples' yards to get "fed", and that's why it was so healthy looking. Big, healthy root system = big healthy plant. And their roots do like to wander, but are manageable because they are easy to chop if you have to.

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

And while I'm thinking about this, if it was container grown and you didn't thoroughly check for circling roots, sorry, I'm the bearer of sad tidings. You really should dig it up, check for them and replant. I can't take the time to write it up again and this 1996 technology website doesn't let me profile my own posts, but search around for discussions of what a serious problem this is becoming. Wholesalers and retailers are just not taking the time to deal with the issue and educate their customers about it.

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

I appreciate your response very much. I guess that we'll just have to deal with whatever happens since what I would love to do is dig it up, amend the he$$ out of the soil, check for circling roots, then replant. But it's 11' tall and I couldn't physically tackle that. I am realizing that the builder probably didn't put in as much topsoil over this sand/ clay mix that he said he would... but we lived 6 hours away and couldn't be here all of the time.

Again, thanks for taking the time to give your opinion on this.

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

At the very least you could take a long sharp, serrated knife and make a radial cut out from the center of the trunk. If you hit a lot of resistance you know there are circling roots near the top of the container rootball/mass. The you could dig down to find them near the bottom. In other words it's easier to dig & replant but you could mostly mitigate them without doing so, if necessary. The following year do the same to the other side (180 degrees opposite), presto you won't have any more circling roots.

A tree that big might have been ball & burlapped. If it was 11' tall when planted (assume it grew only a little last year) it should have had a HUGE container if it was container grown...15 gallons at least, preferably more.

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

never amend the planting hole... see link .. on all aspects ... including DEEP PROPER WATERING ... which is the key to this plants life .;... thru the whole root mass planted ...

if it were me.. the lack of plumb... VERTICAL.. would drive me insane..

in fall ... dig on the side away from the lean ... under dig... and pull it back... until its straight skywards .. and refill hole ... with whatever you dug out .... and stomp it down ...

if you do it right.. you wont even need a stake ...

or its a camera trick ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

No, it's not a camera trick (sorry I forgot to answer your questions about this on an earlier post). It does lean, but I was afraid to stake it just yet. So in the fall I can do what you suggested and get it to straighten up without staking? That's good to know.

And amending the planting hole... well, we are in a coastal area with lots of sand and clay. I thought that the builder put in a good thick layer of topsoil, but it appears to be only about 8"-10" thick. So the root ball of the bigger trees have good soil on top, crap on the bottom. Amending the "crap" won't help? Again, if we lived in the area I would've been here for a lot of this and if I had to pay extra for more topsoil I would have. But I have to deal with what we now own. Like with so many other things in this new home... still love it, but would like to strangle the builder. ::

Also, didn't get around to doing the serrated knife test on the roots today. Had too much fun cleaning the gutters (there were supposed to be gutter screens... and it goes on and on...).

RE: Cryptomeria japonica branches dying

If you want to hear a lot of usless bs spouted by people who claim only to be helping you, 1). start talking about horses or 2). ask how to plant a tree.

First. Hardiness is not the issue. I live in an area that is borderline zone 5/6, and they do fine in this area. The biggest I've seen are in the 40' range, and they came through this last winter with no winterburn. Note: location always makes a difference.

Second. Size of transplant is not the issue. No way, no how, and I don't care what your personal preference is. Hold your pointy finger and thumb like a gun and point towards the sky. This is the tall man. Now point to the side. This is the short man. And has about the same bearing on size of the tree. beyond that, you HAVE to understand root systems, and the difference between different species, and I don't care who you are, there are not enough people who know what they are talking about to be quoted.

When branches die shortly after being planted, the most likely culprit is mis-handling. Always. And even the best companies in the world will have individual employees who just haven't gotten the message.

Sorry to hear about the woes with the builder. If you want to compare notes, I'll buy the first beer. The one with the better story to tell gets to drink for free the rest of the night. I will say this much: A great job can be made shoddy by not paying attention to the details at the end of the job; ie, gutter screens.

When it comes to landscape stuff, there are no two answers that will ever be the same. And four people, you will get five answers. Ask ten, you'll get fifteen, and it gets worse from there. The only more opinionated jerks are horse people. or bbq snobs, but that's another story.

Myself, I live in a house lined with tin foil. And I'm beginning to think I'm the sane one.

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