En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Can a fallen tree in Texas have pieces of it removed from Winona TX
October 20, 2012 - I was wondering if you could tell me if a tree has fallen down, is it legal for me to go and cut pieces off of it in the state of Texas. And if you happen not to know could you tell me who I would con...
view the full question and answer

Concerns about swings on trees in Arboretum from San Marcos
June 01, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We very much enjoyed our visit to the new Arboretum this morning! It is already lovely with native species but will really be something with the additions the Wildflower Cent...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing a Mature Mountain Ash
May 10, 2013 - What kind of fertilizer should I use on a mountain ash tree that is 25 years old (or more)?
view the full question and answer

Wispy plant to put behind a waterfall
May 30, 2008 - Needing a 10-20ft wispy ______ to plant behind our waterfall to help block out road noise. We live in Austin. I've looked at the Mexican weeping bamboo but are there other options?
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center