The Plant Man by Steve Jones www.landsteward.org
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 same problem.
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." – Walter
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 daylilies.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org