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Dying potted emerald cedar?

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Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby brddd » Apr 12, 2010 12:03 am

Hello all,

I have a small balcony facing north in Toronto which I have filled with three evergreens. I potted a large Hick's Yew (mostly due to them surviving well in the shade), and two Emerald cedars, mostly due to the price. (only $30 each, worth a try as I realized potting evergreens isn't the most ideal situation for them)

I potted them in July of 2009, gave them lots of water and attempted to winterize around late November. I wrapped the pots with 2 inch thick foam, put a thick layer of wood chips on top of the soil, and wrapped the pots with burlap. I attempted to water them during the winter, at least once a month, checking on them at least every two weeks. Watering in the winter was hard, as it seemed like the soil was completely frozen and the water would appear to just sit there.

It is now April 2010, and I fear one of the Emerald cedar's is having issues. The yew is nice and green, as is the other emerald cedar, but the second emerald cedar isn't as happy.

Half of the tree is nice and bright green, the other half is a green-brown with drier leaves. Not orange-brown yet, but some can fall apart if you squeeze them with your hand.

I fear that it is having a slow death from being shocked in the winter, or he just isn't happy with the less than favourable conditions. It can happen.

Attached are three pics showing how it looks. I'd appreciate any feedback on whether you think he will survive and whether or not there is anything I can do to make him happier. Whether or not the tree lives or dies, it was very pleasant having evergreens on my balcony, especially seeing some green during the winter.

DSC_6345.jpg


DSC_6348.jpg


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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby Eeyore » Apr 12, 2010 10:14 am

A few things come to mind. Firstly, the one that is brown on one side may have been dessicated by wind coming from that direction. It may have provided a windbreak for the 2nd healthy Cedar. Depending on what floor you are on the wind can be quite significant and so can the temperature difference from ground level.
the second thing is, was the pot large enough? It looks as though they are plastic pots which is an advantage but the roots should be no closer than 1 inch from the pot sides even with insulation surrounding them. Insulating the pot and covering with mulch was the correct thing to do and likely helped prevent the situation from being worse.
Once the pots freeze up it is not necessary to water during the winter unless it is warm and the ground thaws out. Just make sure they are well watered in the fall before freeze up.

At this point the cedar still looks pretty good. I would move it to a sheltered spot and start watering regularily and provide a good fertilizer. It may rebound quite nicely. Once you've determined the extent of the damage and if it looks as though it won't recover you can prune out the dead stuff but don't cut back into the hard wood, the smaller dry ends can be cut off and ne growth should occur.

Next winter provide a windbreak or use an anti-dessicant on the leaves.
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
----------------------------------
“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby brddd » Apr 12, 2010 11:57 am

Thank you very much for your comments and for giving me some hope!

I think you nailed it dead on. The cedar that is having the issues is in the windiest spot of my balcony which is on the 4th floor. At times in the winter (as mild as it was) they took a beating from the high winds. I strategically put it there though, as it is one of the sunniest parts of the balcony, as I believe cedars prefer sun. It can get a bit of sun from the west, and early morning sun from the east. In the corner, the least windy spot, is where I put the yew, as it is also the shadiest spot which I figured the cedars would not enjoy. What's worse for a cedar, too much wind or lack of sun? I guess the answer is too much wind during the winter.

I didn't wrap the leaves over the winter as I was more worried about the roots freezing and the whole point was to enjoy some green during the winter. I did buy burlap wraps, but wrapped them around the pots covering the top at the base of the trees. If they survive I'll look into an anti-dessicant on the leaves for next winter as you suggested.

The pot size should be ok at least for now. I did put them in pots about 40% bigger than what they were in at the nursery. I'm sure they would enjoy larger pots though. The roots should not have expanded that much, but they will likely need re-potting next year.

Since I bought them I haven't fertilized them at all. I thought about it, but could only find the large evergreen fertilizer spikes which I thought might be too much for potted evergreens.

Do you have any recommendations/tips on fertilizing potted evergreens?
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby Eeyore » Apr 15, 2010 10:31 pm

What I would suggest is constructing a windbreak in the winter rather than wrapping the cedars. I am not a fan of wrapping because during warm spells the heat trapped within the wrap can cause damage to the tree. A wind break will protect the tree from the worst of the weather and an anti dessicant will go a long way towards protecting it from drying out. Cedars do like sun but they also need a lot of water. Make sure to water well in the fall but not so much that the soil will expand and crack the pot, provide a wind break and treat with anti dessicant.

For fertilizer I would suggest one of the water soluable ones that you can mix and provide whenever you water or once a season according to the dirrections. Any good evergreen fertilizer should help. I think the spikes would be too much fertilizer in a restricted area.
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
----------------------------------
“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby roxannet » Apr 23, 2010 7:01 pm

Very good advice from Lyn.
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby brddd » May 02, 2010 10:44 pm

Thanks for the advice. So far so good, my cedar is still alive. I've moved the cedar to the least windy spot on my balcony, and started feeding them some evergreen fertilizer during watering. Half the tree is still having issues, but the leaves are still greenish-grey and they haven't turned brown yet.

With the warmer weather, and the recent humidity, the leaves feel a bit softer. It may still recover, but we'll see.
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby Eeyore » May 04, 2010 5:39 pm

Got my fingers crossed for you!
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
----------------------------------
“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: Dying potted emerald cedar?

Postby brddd » Jun 30, 2010 2:36 pm

It made a turn for the worse. :( The leaves were enjoying the humidity in May and June, where the leaves would soften up a bit. I went away on vacation for a week, and came back the half side was all orange-brown.

I trimmed most of it, just the leaves, and kept a bit to see if it recovers. It looks better trimmed, and maybe will grow better with most of the dead leaves off. (Assuming orange-brown leaves means they are dead).

The other half of the tree appears to be healthy and not affected...

Thanks for all of the help.
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