Problems growing leland cypress

yeahyeahyeahMay 28, 2009

Hi there,

I have a section in back yard between me and a neighbor that is very

wet. There are some large trees in the immediate area but for years I

have been trying grow leland cypress to create a natural screen

between the two properties. My understanding is that leland cypress

get very big very quickly which is what I want. Unfortunately I've

been trying for several years and the growth is almost nothing. One

tree has grown, maybe, 6 inches in 3 years--and that only happened

because last year I watered it 2x daily.

The area also has a lot of shade because of the oak and maples nearby.

So I'm not sure if it's the minimal direct sunlight, the wet soil or a

nutrient deficiency in the soil. Any ideas?

Also, if these conditions aren't good for leland cypress can anyone

make a recommendation for another tree that could that I could cluster

for a suitable screen effect?

Many thanks,


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They need full sun to grow fast - it is very likely the shade that is making them slow.


PS spellcheck: Leyland

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 8:23AM
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They are JUNK! lol. in my opinion. :) Seriously, the cultivars Gold Rider and Naylors Blue are nice and they appear a bit hardier than they are given credit for but they are terribly susceptible to diseases. My personal experience has been they need very well drained soil to avoid problems. I've seen some very nice plants thrive for 5 or 10 years and then little by little they dieout when one branch at a time turns brown until the entire plant is so deformed its just useless.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:12AM
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I have lots of them, lots of different types. My yard is very wet in winter, so then I don't water them. They do NOT like standing water. They do like sun, but I have several growing in heavy shade and they are growing fast.

Here, a good evergreen tree for shade and wet is the western red cedar, thuja plicata. You may want to find a native that works in your area. Also look into broadleaf everygreens that thrive in your conditions. A mixed screen is more appealing.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Leylands that don't grow? Now that's very unusual. ;-)

Given the fact that you already have the trees in the ground for several years, I for one would be hard pressed to pull them out unless I was absolutely certain that the tree was wrong for the site. That is just far too much root growth to waste. Remember, foliage growth is dependent upon root growth. I promise you that most of the important growth has already happened under ground, where it really counts! It's the root growth that takes time. Foliage growth is simply the icing on the cake (from a biological perspective, that is). ;-)

Before removing these trees, I would certainly contact a nursery that employs a certified arborist on staff and consult with them. They have always been worth the reasonable fees whenever I have used them. (And, yes, we are all on a first name basis.)

Here is a site maintained by a commercial x-mas tree grower who specializes in Virginia Pines & Leylands with gobs of good info. (Remember, these people can not afford to be wrong).

Leylands and I get along well, so here are a few thoughts.

First, check for diseases or pests - especially cankers. This would be the most logical cause.

The next logical cause would be a problem with the root system. Leylands are pretty durable but do not like standing water. Still, is this was the problem the result should be a dead tree, not a stilted one.

It is doubtful that this lack of growth problem could be caused by a lack of sunlight in only partially shady locations. Unfortunately, I do not know from experience the effect of heavy shade on the growth of Leylands. Another poster has said that theirs does well. This makes sense to me as the real problem with Leylands is typically how to control their almost violent growth, not to stimulate it.

There is one clue you gave which could explain the problem.

"One tree has grown, maybe, 6 inches in 3 years--and that only happened because last year I watered it 2x daily."

That's really too much water for a Leyland. I'm surprised that you didn't drown the poor thing. ;-)

Given this statement, my next guess is that the problem is due to a lack of adequate fertilization. Watering itself has a fertilizing effect - even if simply to act as a catalyst to stimulate critical organic processes in the soil.

If you have not fertilized recently, buy a bag of general purpose fertilizer (i.e. 12-12-12) and give it the recommended amount and top water it in well. If this is the problem, you should start to see results in just a few weeks at this time of year.

For annual fertilizing here is a cocktail for your fast growing evergreens in early spring. First buy a large bag of Hollytone and follow the instructions. Then buy a bag of sulphur/iron mix and follow the directions for the minimum recommended amount - or half the full recommended amount. Last, buy a bag of general purpose fertilizer (i.e. 12-12-12) and give it only one half of the recommended amount (again, like the iron sulphur, you've already added the Hollytone).

I can not overemphasize the value of Hollytone. My trees and shrubs are the envy of my neighborhood thanks primarily to this amazing soil additive. Think of it as inoculating and feeding your trees all at the same time. Another plus is that it would be very difficult to over-fertilize using only Hollytone as it is 100% organic.

One caveat about Hollytone. If you have any pets, make certain that you spread the Hollytone in and immediately water it in well as your dogs will unerringly head straight for any standing piles and then proceed to gobble it right down! Fortunately, it seems to agree with their systems. It's just awfully expensive dog food. ;-)

Next, water this in using top watering only. I do not deep water my Leylands unless the temps get really very high. Leylands will tolerate a good deal of top watering without any problems. But they do have a sensitive root system. Consequently, they do not like sitting in standing water. This is especially relevant to people like myself who have heavy clay soil.

Good luck. They are magnificent and durable trees that should dominate the space in which they are planted. I only ask that you report back to us the results of your research so that everyone can benefit from whatever you learn.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 11:05AM
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I just realized that in my efforts to save you unnecessary expenses on trees that will not thrive, I made a serious error in judgment.

It is possible that these trees are lacking in one or more critical ingredients necessary for growth. Many soils are deficient in important trace minerals such as zinc and manganese and entirely depleted of critical minerals such as sulphur and iron.

In retrospect, if it were my trees, I would take the plunge and give your trees my previously mentioned fertilizer cocktail.

At the very least I would positively drown the things in Hollytone. ;-)

Fingers crossed.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Gtdixon, thanks for those pointers! Will be buying Hollytone :-)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 7:38PM
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