En Español

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - October 02, 2009

From: Lakeland, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Dirt piled up around trunk of cypress tree in Lakeland FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 30-40 foot cypress tree that has just started looking like it is dying..limbs on top are drooping badly. In April of this year we put probably 3 feet of dirt/clay around the bottom of it, was this wrong and can we remove the dirt/clay and save it? Help we love the tree.

ANSWER:

We don't know which cypress you are referring to. There are 8 species of the cupressus genus native to North America, none of which are native to Florida. Of the three species of the taxodium genus native  to North America two, Taxodium ascendens (pond cypress) and Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) are native to Florida. 

We are also unclear in what exactly the dirt piled up around the tree involves. Did you do some grading, raising the  soil level by 3 feet in a large area? Did you just pile soil up around the tree itself at the trunk base? Either scenario could eventually result in the death of the tree. 

We found an article from Iowa State University Horticulture and Home Pest News, Tree Root Systems by Sherry Rindels, with information on the effects of dirt being on top of tree roots. Another article from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Tree Planting Breakthrough by Ann Koenig, approaches the problem with the idea that trees are often planted too deep. Your tree may have been planted at the proper depth, but is now suffering the same effects because dirt has been placed on top of the roots.

Since we don't know which tree you have, how extensive the layer of dirt is or why you chose to do this, we recommend that you contact a trained, licensed arborist and ask for his ideas on what, if anything, you can do to save your tree. 

 

More Trees Questions

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Is bald cypress native to Dallas area?
September 19, 2009 - There are 2 very large bald cypress trees growing beside one another at a park in North Dallas, and I was wondering if they were native or planted a long time ago by the settlers or something. They ar...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting live oaks in summer
July 17, 2008 - I have a need to transplant a live oak tree on a home building site. The need is now, the house is almost completely built out and the owners did not prep the site by moving trees or prepping them to ...
view the full question and answer

Native Desert Willow and bunchgrass for Lubbock TX
July 29, 2013 - We live in Lubbock and have decided to try to make our front yard as native as possible. It has been a very difficult process finding native species locally (even the local Aggie nursery sells a lot ...
view the full question and answer

Plants poisonous to dogs from Marion TX
April 24, 2012 - Is the desert willow poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center