The Plant Man column
for publication week of 01/30/05 - 02/05/05
The Plant Man
by Steve Jones
Leyland Cypress mysteriously turning yellow and brown
Because this column appears in something like eighty-five newspapers,
I frequently receive comments and questions from readers in every part
of the United States.
Thanks to the universal reach of the Internet, sometimes I also
receive e-mail from readers overseas. Here's one from a reader living
in France, but no doubt many readers in the USA are frustrated by the
QUESTION: "We have 90 young Leylands, about 6' tall, that we planted
late last February. We notice three have gone brown and presumably
will die. The rest have a yellow tinge to the foliage and are not a
nice deep green. Is this normal in winter or is it a sign that
something is wrong? I fertilized them in November for the first time.
Thanks in advance." – Francesca McAndrew, Saignon, France.
ANSWER: No, this is not normal for Leyland Cypress. It may be that
they were fertilized in November and then, if you had warm weather,
the sap may have come up in the plant. Then, if the temperature went
down quickly, the plant could have ruptured. You may want to check
with the nursery where they were purchased and ask them the same
question. If they were Balled and Burlapped ("B and B") and not
containerized, it could be the dirt balls were not prepared correctly
to start with. For example, the dirt balls might have been too small
and tight, or possibly they could have been stored for too long in
their "B and B" before they were sold to you.
We visited the South of France and Paris this fall for about two
weeks. For the first part of our vacation, we stayed in the small town
of Plan de le Tour. Very relaxing and enjoyable! The French
hospitality was very accommodating. We got hooked on Riviera Radio; in
fact I'm listening to it as I write this. Good luck with your Leylands
and let me know how it works out.
QUESTION: "I need you to tell me what type of trees I could plant on
river bed sand. My field is 85 acres located on the Arkansas River.
The soil has sand and clay mixed and is river bed type soil. We want
to plant trees for wildlife: deer, turkey and quail are our main
goals. The ground never has water over it and it does not flood. It is
mostly sand mixed with Bermuda grass growing on the high sandy parts."
ANSWER: Since you have clay mixed in with the sand, you're in luck:
you should be able to plant almost anything! For your base trees, I
suggest using Sawtooth Oak, Gobbler Sawtooth (attractive to turkeys,
as the name suggests), Chinese Chestnut, Hazelnut, Persimmon, Green
Ash and Red Maple. Then for low growing trees, you could consider
Mulberry, American Plum, and white flowering Dogwoods. For shrubs, my
recommendations would include Autumn Olive, Russian Olive, Nanking
Cherry, Sand Cherry, Bittersweet, silky and red Osier Dogwood.
QUESTION: "I have several large pine trees that shed needles. Is there
a flowering shrub that does well in soil where pine needles have
dropped forever? I have a thick bed of needles and this is OK with me
since I do not need to pull any weeds; but would like to have some
color in the area. The area receives morning sun." – Mark D. Sala
ANSWER: My wife Cheryl fielded this question and here is her answer:
The pine needles create an acidic soil and the fibrous roots near the
surface can compete for moisture. Not only that, with the heavy layer
of needles there can sometimes be a mold problem underneath, so that's
something you need to check for. Your best bet is to look for plants
that like acidic soil and are shallow rooted. Some suggestions are
Artemisia, Evening Primrose, Salvia, Campanula, Lady Ferns, Azaleas,
Vinca, strawberry plants, Hydrangeas, Hostas, Chokeberry, Astilbe and
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org