Cryptomeria – Losing Limbs (Dieback)
Q: I have several ‘Yoshino’ cryptomeria trees in my back yard. They are very large, maybe 25 feet tall.
About two years ago, I noticed that one of the 5 had some brown patches on it. The about a year later I noticed that the tree next to it was developing the same brown patches. I asked the landscaper that installed them about the problem, and he has no clue. Today, when I went to take the pictures to send to you, I noted that it looks as if the third tree in the series of 5 might be heading the same way.
Can you tell me what is going on with these? Whatever it is, it is not happening very quickly. I have some more of these trees in the yard on the other side, but they show no indication of developing this problem.
A: My eye is always looking for a pattern when I see plant damage. It’s curious to me that the damage on the two plants is right opposite each other. I wonder if the roots between the two got too dry or too wet somehow. That could explain it.
On another tack, cryptomeria does occasionally shed branches for no apparent reason. Once you are sure there is no life in the affected limbs, prune them back to healthy wood and see what happens in the next few months. Many times, adjacent limbs will send growth into the “hole” in the foliage and the trees will look fine in a few years.
Andy Kinsey, who operates The Kinsey Family tree farm/nursery in northern Forsyth County comments: We grow quite a few Cryptomeria. And one of the characteristics that we have learned about this particular species is that it is HIGHLY sensitive to fertilizer. When we fertilize this species it is imperative that NONE of the fertilizer granules actually touch green needles. If the fertilizer comes into contact with the foliage about 30 days later anything that was in contact will turn brown and die . . . guaranteed.
That being said and based upon the pictures submitted I might suspect that someone has emptied a fertilizer tank or line through those two trees. It appears that they have well maintained grass and also that there isn’t much behind those trees . . . a perfect scenario for this plausible explanation. You might ask the home owner if and when she had someone at her house treating her lawn. Just a thought . . . hope it helps.