sissoo: spacing and pictures

cjs111July 2, 2007

i'm finally admitting defeat and declaring my ficuses dead. Some small sprouting at the base but they've been getting worse and not better. I'm narrowing down my choices for replacement to sissoo and maybe a couple of ficus's because they look so good.

just curious as to how much spacing a sissoo tree needs? also, how aggressive are their roots?

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another ?

does the sisso stay green year round? are they more frost tolerant than the ficus?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 6:00AM
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greenlust(z9 Phx,AZ)

I think sissoo stays green year round, drops more leaves in fall. I have neighbours sissoo roots in my yard, i happen to cut the root while digging and there were shoots coming out of the broken root and in a week the shoots were 6 inch high. The sissoo tree grows upright mostly and not much sideways ie it can be 20' high and 5' wide. They grow very fast. Frost tolerence also depends on how mature the tree is. Might be a good idea to get variety of trees. If you are looking for evergreen trees, Brazilian pepper (moderate growth) and texas mountain laurel (slow growth) are good trees. Evergreen ELm is also a good choice but it loses leaves in winter.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:48AM
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stephanotis_1(8b AZ)

It depends on where you are. We are in Queen Creek, and all of our sissoos lost their leaves when it froze, and then came back when we were sure they were dead. Spacing also depends on how often and how aggressively you are willing to prune. Every time you make a cut on a branch, the tree sends out several more baby branches to replace the lost tip. Sissoo can get very tall and extremely wide, and they sucker also. I would suggest allowing at least 25' between trees, unless you are trying to create a screen effect. says 30-40' spacing, and they get over 40' tall.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 5:58PM
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Sissoos are semi-evergreen, so they lose some of their leaves in the fall but look good unless we have a freeze like this year. All of the leaves froze and some of the small branches, but as mentioned earlier they will come back especially if they are not newly planted. The frost we had is unusual and I was told that the most damage was done in one night when the temperature dipped and stayed below zero for 4-5 hours.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 2:20AM
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Sissoo trees are semi-deciduous. Meaning, of course, they lose some of their leaves but near all of them. Excepting last year's frost (2011? or last 2010? don't remember). I have somewhere around 25 of them I planted on my property after scoring them from a nursery that was going out of business. During the extreme frost that saw a lot of lost vegetation all over the valley, my sissoos dropped all of their leaves and they looked positively dead. They were just dead looking sticks.

Neighborhood was abuzz with the fact that I would have to cut them all down. I didn't bite. Pre-Spring and I began watering them - a lot. Suddenly, all new branches started coming out on all of them. I cut off the dead branches and now? Like it never happened.

By chance, I was at a tree farm a few days ago. Not buying trees, making a delivery (local truck driver). There were a large number of 25 to 30 foot tall pine trees in boxes and I started a conversation with this guy that is running this place, responsible for it's day to day operations. Those trees at one point were hauling in $3,500, now he says they might fetch $1,000 to $1,200.

Oh, I reply and get onto the subject of Sissoo trees. He's all over the subject of Sissoo trees. A magnificent tree, he declares. I asked about the fact that they are planted all over the place but none of them I have seen are very large. No, he replies, because Sissoo trees are a newer variant brought to the Phoenix area. Give it 10 years from now and you are going to see giant Sissoo trees all over the place. I see municipalities have them planted in medians and really in various public places.

I was intrigued. I bought sissoos because the nursery I got them from - cheap I should add - declared that they grow quickly. Water them well, they grow well. Well, my 2 foot tall trees I planted a couple of years ago are as high as 18 feet tall now. Some haven't grown that fast, but point made.

Here's the part that really got my attention. I told him I saw that they can grow as high as 40 feet, maybe even a tad taller. Yes, he replies, they can grow that small, but you can expect some of them to grow as high as 90 feet. NINETY feet? Yes, he replies, they don't all grow that much but certainly you will see some that tall eventually.

Sold and very glad I went to the trouble I did to get them all planted. I have about 25 of them planted all over my property. I had barren, treeless properties. A house without a tree is a building without windows. They are extremely frost resistant, as I found out from my own experience. During that same frost, my Ficus were damaged quite a bit. I had to cut back a lot of branches and hope for the best. I used Miracle Grow on both the Ficus and the Sissoos. The Ficus have made a comeback, yes, but nothing like they were before the frost. The Sissoos grew out new branches in a big hurry and they have no appearance of any damage.

The nursery guy said that these trees are still quite popular in these parts and will be - until some developer or someone decides something new should be brought in and they will go somewhere - else - in this world and bring in a tree that has never been seen here before.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 8:27PM
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I will never plant another sissoo. I thought I had done my research when I planted my first sissoo. After about three years or so, it became a nightmare. Raised the concrete patio. Suckers from the roots shot up as far as 30 feet away from the main tree. I even had a sucker shoot up where the concrete patio met the house (not the raised area). I tried everything to get rid of it. Tiny pieces of the roots still send up new trees. Lots of man hours and money to professionals down the drain. Just letting you know my experience... I know others who have both positive and negative experiences with this tree. I did do deep watering. So, that was not the issue for the suckers.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:33AM
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I've also heard good and bad things about sissoo trees. I bought a house that had three in the back yard and one in the front as a street-scape tree. The whole neighborhood has them as street-scape trees. The street-scape trees are all huge...and they all also have heaved the sidewalks all over the neighborhood from the roots. The HOA made us thin them down to nothing so they don't shade as well as they used to. They grow very quickly though so I guess that's the point. Also the roots will rise over time with low watering. As in, my front yard lawn has a big root right through it due to the low watering of the they will invade your grass eventually. The tree out front is much larger than the ones in the gets watered much more. The ones out back drop their leaves every winter but just grow new ones in spring. Also the branches on the smaller ones became damaged from the Jan 2011 frost but I just cut them off and the tree was fine. Currently the back yard is dirt but I plan to have grass in I probably have to take out the sissoo's unless I want giant roots invading the yard in time. Sad because I do love that they shade the west side of the house in summer. The previous owner wasn't very knowledgeable when they planted them. They're only 10 or so feet from the house and from each other. Overall they are nice in that they provide good shade and grow fast but can be messy, hard to manage, invade grass, ruin concrete, damage houses etc if they are too close (within 30 feet). Such a shame.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:27PM
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I have a Sissoo in my front yard and hate the tree. It is constantly losing leaves, has roots that started to push up on my side walk and grows so fast that it requires frequent pruning.

I would not suggest this tree to anyone. I know there are other evergreen trees out there that are much better.

Just my opinion, but if my wife and neighbors would let me I would get rid of it (they do not have to clean up after the tree)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:58PM
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I don't have my Sissoo's anywhere near concrete or anything else that they are going to damage. I'm not sure, though, how some of those much larger trees in narrow medians on Chandler streets aren't pushing up asphalt. You can go the evergreen route, but if you think you are going to plant a 2 foot evergreen and have a 20 foot tree in 3 years or less, good luck.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 9:51PM
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