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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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Friday - July 15, 2011

From: Abilene , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Premature browning of bald cypress needles in summer
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have several 10m high taxodium distichum trees in the lawn, with drip irrigation twice a week, and same soil content, and on just one of them, several leaves have started turning brown, it seems to be browning from the center of the tree outward(distally). I dont see evidence of insect damage, but I also am not entirely certain what to look for. Any suggestions??

ANSWER:

Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) is a tree that benefits from deep watering.  If it does not get ample water in hot summers it will shut down many of its leaves, starting from the trunk-end of branches.  Mr. Smarty Plants has seen this occur on several occasions, sometimes on one tree but not on the adjacent one.  Green leaves remain on the branch tips if the drought is not too severe, and the tree will recover completely in the following spring.  However, this is not a healthy situation for the tree.  It seems that your drip irrigation is not allowing water to penetrate deeply enough in the soil to satisfy the tree's needs.  It is recommended that deep watering be employed to supplement rainfall in periods of extended drought.  I believe that if you water the area under all the trees out to the drip line for 30 min. or so every two weeks the trees will survive without permanent damage.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

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