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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 02, 2009

From: Annapolis, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Rotating a non-native cypress in its hole in Annapolis, MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a follow up question to a Cypress transplant question from December 28, 2008. We trimmed our 5 1/2 foot Dwarf Hinoki Cypress back too far, and now the side facing the street has some bare spots that do not look good. Is it safe to dig up the tree and rotate it so that the bare spot is facing the wall, or will I hurt the tree? Please advise.

ANSWER:

Sorry, you really can't treat a living tree like a Christmas tree that you put in a corner so the bare spots don't show. Quoting this Previous answer you referred to: "We can tell you that members of the Cupressaceae family don't take well to transplanting. They have long taproots which, if damaged, can weaken or kill the tree." Even if you are just "rotating" the tree in its original hole, you can hardly avoid damaging that long taproot, and the tree will almost certainly go into transplant shock and probably die. 

As we pointed out in our previous answer, this is not a species native to North America, but to Japan, and therefore out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. However, we can tell you that members of the Cupressaceae (cypress) family, native or not, are slow-growing. If you continue to give your tree good care, and prune less vigorously, it will fill in those bare spots and regain its nice shape. Patience is the prescription. 

 

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