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Thursday - June 05, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 years old. They are the same height and have the same amount of foliage, but the cypress in the clay soil is deep green and the cypress in the limestone soil is yellow-green. What do I need to add to the soil to help the yellow-green cypress?

ANSWER:

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) is one of our favorite trees, graceful and interesting year-round. We think, however, you are worrying unnecessarily. The leaf color in various resources was listed as "green," "sage green" and "light green." Floridata has an excellent website on the Bald cypress, part of which we are going to quote to save ourselves some typing.

"Culture: Bald-cypress likes an acidic soil and will develop yellowing of the leaves if grown in neutral or calcareous soils. Young trees grow rapidly, but they can live 500 years or more.
Light: Young seedlings and saplings can tolerate light shade, but they will need full sun to reach their maximum potential.
Moisture: Although they occur naturally in the wettest of places, bald-cypress will thrive in normal, even dry soil. I long ago learned from an old forester that plants don't grow where they grow best; they grow where they can get away with it. Bald-cypress is just about the only tree that can survive long periods of flooding. But, it will grow faster, larger, and be healthier if not subjected to flooding at all. Bald-cypress doesn't often get the chance to grow in rich, well drained soils because other trees (that can't tolerate prolonged flooding) out-compete it. Established bald-cypress trees are surprisingly tolerant of drought.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10"

That may be the new slogan for gardeners: "Plants don't grow where they grow best; they grow where they can get away with it." We think both of your trees have adjusted to the soils they found, and are getting away with it just fine.

 

 

 

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