Emerald Green Arborvitae Advice

anon1111October 4, 2006

Emerald Green Arborvitae Advice


Can you tell if this Emerald Green Arborvitae is on the verge of death? I purchased the tree in April and it has slowly detiorated to this point. I myself have been really stressing over it for about 3 months now. I think I give it plenty of water. It gets more than the healthier looking one on the right and less than the one on the left. I think it gets plenty of sun. My concern when I bought it and the one on the left was that the soil in root ball was like concrete! The one on the right a purchased a few weeks prior and in my opinion it had much better conditioned soil. I just want to know whether to give up on this and remove it or if it will get any better? Will the brown foliage turn back to green or is that part dead. If it is dead should I cut it off?

Thanks for any help.

Feel free to look at more images via the link.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i wouldn't remove it... AND I WOULD STOP WOPRRYING ABOUT IT ...

it is stressed from the move ... the other two seem to indicate that you did well otherwise ...

i would guess that there was some physical injury to that branch during shipping.. like some hulky guy grabbing the plant by a fist full of branch and whipping it up on the truck ... if so .. the branch is suffering ...

most conifers do not re-bud from brown wood ... so if you see no green growth points .. the branch will fail as far back as there are no buds ...

frankly .. it is very common ... i have a lot of this type thing from snow load damage ... so don't think you are alone ...

dead needles will shed by next spring ... so i would wait until next spring .. and prune back any dead branches ... after next springs growth spurt.. and the pruning.. you will be surprised just how fast it all fills in ...

the one thing i recommend for this fall .. is to insure proper water up thru at least thxgving in zone 5 ... the only way to do that is to check the soil at the prior root ball and make sure it is damp down there.. especially on the one with the ball that concerns you ...

finally .. i recommend a mulch bed ... i would VERY CAREFULLY remove the grass .. and add a 2 to 4 inch bed of mulch around the trees ... i would use roundup.. but i have a lot of practice with that ... others just lay down 3 or 4 sheets of plain newspaper .. and put the mulch above it ....

bottom line.. QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT .... good luck


    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 8:50AM
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We purchased about 33 of these EG Arborviates from Lowes in early July, (in MI), a lot of them look like anon 1111's pic above, half of them are completely brown, not a speck of green. They have to be dead, can't see them coming back. My DH keeps saying he thinks they got too much water, but everywhere I read says they need a lot.

Does anyone know about Lowes guarantee? I know it's one year, but does that mean replacement only or money back? I'd rather replace from somewhere else.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 12:32AM
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Hope you didn't plant them in early July because that is about the worst possible time. Now late October would be ideal.

I don't know about the Lowes guarantee, but about giving them too much water: just before you plant them soak the pot 10 minutes under water before removing it, make the planting hole twice as big as the root ball, and when filling it with loose soil use lots of water, so that there are no air pockets around the roots. After that they don't need any extra water, they should manage on their own if they're healthy.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 1:15PM
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Yep that's when we did plant them early July, my DH planted them, not sure about whether he soaked them or not.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 8:28PM
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sewingbelle - around these parts, Lowe's refunds your purchase price or does a credit to your credit card account - depending on your method of payment. Need a receipt though.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 7:30AM
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I have the receipt made sure I kept it, big purchase. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 10:11PM
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Problem with buying conifers from Lowe's and other Big Box stores is they typically irrigate when the plant wilts - ever see a typical conifer wilt?? - so conifers can be dry for a very long time and "they" never realize it. Also they pack them together as tight as they can and you end up with plants similar to what anon1111's plant looks like. I would not buy conifers from these places unless I saw them coming off the truck and then I would still be very critical - especially of the root ball condition.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 10:32AM
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mrgpag, I agree, I think it may have been a big mistake to buy from Lowes.....guess we thought we were getting a deal, quite a bit less $$ than the nursery we usually buy from and same 1yr guarantee. It wouldn't be such a problem to me if it was a couple of plants, but we bought so many, it's just a lot of work to plant and now to take them out to return them. We had them delivered also, we don't have a truck, so it will be a job returning dead plants.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 11:57PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Actually, after planting them they do need watering on a regular basis. They may be planted in the ground but their roots haven't yet "stretched" out from the original root ball and they are more prone to drying out. Having said that, I suppose one could water too much, but you have to be the judge of that. Letting them dry out somewhat inbetween good deep waterings is good.

As for "plant abuse" I think alot of home improvement type stores are famous for this. They receive well-cared for plants from some nursery and they neglect on watering them and those black nursery pots dry out quick in the hot sun. For conifers, sometimes even if you bring a plant home, plant and water it well, it still may lose some branches from the drought stress it suffered while at the store.

I bought a one gallon pyramid cedar in such a manner. But, only paid a couple of bucks for it and took a chance. It's now 3 feet high and healthy, though the first year it did experience a bit of browning.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 12:14PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

I have to go to bat for Lowes. Not that I advocate buying your conifers there. $29.99 for 6-7 ft 'Emerald Green' is a good buy when they sell for $60.00 at your home town nursery. They are grown in Canada so the tag said. When shipped to all areas of the country, especially the south, I think they will go down hill fast if not planted quickly. I buy them for screening out undesirable areas. I did purchase them the same day off the truck which is very important. So far all 7 are doing quite well. Bottom line for success is a soil check for moisture. If soil is dry 2 inches down you need to water.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 7:20PM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

I have to say that I've purchased many conifers from Lowe's (good buyer at the one near me who gets interesting stuff here and there). All of mine have made it and done very, very well!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 10:36PM
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I live in northwest NJ and the soil here is clay and acidic. I want to plant a row of 6' emerald greens (from Lowes) as a privacy screen to block out my neighbors who are elevated above us and can look down into our backyard and see everything we're doing. Problem is, the area where I want to plant the trees gets very soggy after heavy rains and snow to the point you can't walk on it w/o sinking. In the summer it's dry like the desert. Grass refuses to grow in the area and while digging the holes for the trees the other day I found several grubs. Is this a wise decision to plant this type of tree considering the soil condition, and if so, how do I plant them? Should I mix the native soil w/ a lot of peat moss and lime? From what I've been reading it seems these trees are very sensitive and I don't want them to all die on me.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 8:53PM
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Annag, I would never think of arbs as fussy. I love that Mike Dirr, in his woody plant book, uses the word 'healthy' as one discriptor for arbor vitae.

If your soil is indeed acidic, then this is the one conifer that I'm aware of that would benefit from lime application. Soggy areas, dry areas, arbor vitae grows in them all. Impossible to say what the grubs are without more description.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 9:58PM
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Anon 1111,
We purchased (3) 6 foot tall Emerald Arbs this year and planted in early Spring. They were balled and burlapped. I know what you are talking about with them being so hard. Ours were too. We have really sandy/gravelly/infertile soil in the area we planted them. I mixed a big bucket of peat mixed with the dug out soil, backfilled, pushed down with my muckboots,watered, backfilled etc. They were doing well but we have had some browning issues too. Not so severe though as your middle one. I was watering every other day and I called the Nursery and said I was overdoing it. Said 1-2 times a week max, trickle hose for 30 minutes. I've cut back on the watering and they seem to be doing much better. (Plus I'm a freak and nipped out every brown spot I could find). How often do you water and how much? Does anyone out there know if arbs need tons of water or can actually be hurt by too much? I was always under the assumption that any evergreen shouldn't be watered alot. Or is that just bunk?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 12:25AM
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I'm in center of Texas where it's often hot and dry (but then what part of Texas isn't). What I'm doing here for watering is to provide 1" equivalent of rain each week for trees that were transplanted from 5 gallon containers. If no rain, then water each tree heavily once a week. Trees still in pots get watered every-other day. If temperatures stay below 80 F, the watering is reduced. The 1" rainfall per week or equivalent is a specification used by the Corps of Engineers for tree planting. It seems to be a good general rule for watering trees.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 11:03AM
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What is 1" of rain in your opinion if watering (slow trickle) with a hose as far as minutes wise? I've actually thought about timing it in a gallon bucket. Of course, a "slow trickle" isn't exactly scientific, how would would one gauge it!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 12:26AM
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I like to use the cheap whirlybird type sprinklers to water young trees. Just place near trees and set as low as you can where the unit will still rotate. This IMO is better than the trickle in one spot. True, water will move sideways in clayey soils, but I still think it better to distribute over a wider area. If you want to gauge the amount your applying, just put a can or small straight sided pan in the area and see how long it takes to get say an inch of water. As Scotjute mentioned, this amount, per week, will usually suffice to keep the soil moist.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 5:35PM
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I am jumping in here because I don't know where else to start. We have a wall around our whole property of Emerald green arbovitae...Just moved in last year so I have no idea how old they are but they are over 25 feet tall!. They were really full last year. We trimmed them back and they looked pretty good. (They were very well atken care of by the previous owner of 45 years) This year there seems to be many brown areas and the trees seem to be thinning. Should we get a professional to look at them. I don't want to lose these trees.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 6:47PM
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I have planted about 40 Emerald Green Arborvitae and I need to plant 40 more. Lowes sold them but they are not ordering anymore. The supplier is in Canada and they're called Selenca(?) or something like that.

I need to find out if I can order directly from them - I want to keep the same/similar arborvitae - and some of the nurseries around here have them but they do not look similar.... any help out there ? Thanks -Ray

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 8:30PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Why not talk to the nursery buyer at the Lowes store where you purchased them. Google could not provide any information with the name you provided with their a list of growers in Canada.

Our local Lowes store get 2 shipments a year. Early Spring and early Summer.

They do come from a Canadian nursery grower. Probably wholesale only when you consider the volume of trees he is growing just for Lowes alone.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 8:58AM
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Thanks Dave .... I was planning to return and see if Lowes would cough up the name and contact information of their supplier ... other than that I guess I have my work cut out trying to search out nurseries with suitable arborvitae.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 11:06PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

"...supplier is in Canada and they're called Selenca(?) or something like that..."

Are you sure they weren't referred to as 'Smaragd'?


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 5:52PM
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I planted 15 Arborvitae about 2 months ago and am noticing more and more brown branches. I am hoping these branches will come back and are justed "bruised" from the move and being transplanted. Another concern I am having though is some BLACK SPOTS is saw at the base of a few of the trees. Does anyone know what this mihgt be?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 9:30PM
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we planted 4 aborvitae this spring, they now have long spindly tops on them, like something has been eating them,
what can be the cause of this.
we also had some that turned brown over the winter we dug them up and planted in a bucket, they seem to be doing fine now,we haven't planted them in the ground yet they are in buckets yet, will this affect the growth, and how long can you leave them in containers.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 1:16PM
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The root ball is most likly dry.Heres a little trick i employ on hills and slopes.Get a 10inch piece of pvc sewer pipe 4 inches wide sink the pipe between the plants fill the pipe withe gravel to within 2 inches othe top and water through the pipe.It helped my plants get water at the root ball on hills instead of runnig off. Joe

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:14PM
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almost forgot drill some holes in the pipe so water can flow underground. Joe

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:22PM
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I need to plant 200 green giant arborvitae but my landscaper adviced my not to. He has seen sunburns on this specie in our area (Zip code 75078, zone 8). USDA guidance zone for this specie is 4-7 but a lot of nurceries put it 4-8. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:29AM
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I planted 8 6' tall Emerald last spring. They were lush and green. Since then they have become washed out in color. Recommendations from the local nurseries is the soil is not acidic enough and I should use a Miracle grow product..spikes 2x a year or liquid acidic fertilizer 1x a month. I don't believe they are under/over watered. Any suggestions? Thanks, Dave

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 6:28PM
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