cedrus brown needles overnight

jferrier

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I have a deodar cedar that was brought inside the house for a few days during a very hard freeze. I put it back outside during the day after temps got into the 40's and it spent the night outside in the lower 30's without much wind and then another night in the 40's. Then almost overnight, the tips of almost all the needles are brown w/ the worst ones being on the crown. I have it planted in a well draining mix and have only been watering the soil when its dry. Anyone have any ideas as to what may be the problem?
 

Bill S

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Could have something to do with brining it in and warming it up, then once all warmed up putting it outside in the freezing weather, otherwise called babying a tree. Lots have done it.

Where are you located? How long have you had it? Where did you get the tree? What is it potted in? How big is it.
 

october

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Hello jferrier.. I am not a cedar expert by any means, but I can offer a couple of things.. Usually, conifers show stress a while after the actual incident happens. For example, A conifer that was transplanted or pruned heavilly, may not show any signs of stress until 1-2 months + after the events.. So there is a chance that whatever turned the needles brown, might have happened about 1-2 months ago.

However, in this case..If the temps in your house was in the 70's, I believe that it could have been a factor.. Aft er3 days or more in a very warm environment like that, a tree will beging to wake up and sap will begin to flow. At which point, the defenses of the tree will be lower. Some species more than others.. So, the tree might have thought it was going into mid Spring, and then when it was put back outside, it wasn't ready for it. It might have been better to just keep it outside, in a possibly slightly warmer spot, but covered up.

I think that is the needles are just browning, it might be ok.. However, if the needles are becoming brittle and falling off in sections, then you have problem. Also, if the tree turns a different color. For examble if the tree is normally blueish, then turns to green or if the tree is a differnt shade of green all of sudden. Then the tree might be in trouble.

Once again, this is just my opinion and things that I have experienced...

I hope this was helpful

Rob
 

Brian Van Fleet

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It really boils down to a very few things: Sunburn, it dried out, or it froze...Deodara Cedars are pretty tough; handling down to the 12F or so in my yard and neighborhood. Anything above that and you may have been better off leaving it to it's own devices outside. (Add your general location to your profile)

FWIW, the deodaras around here are a little yellowish right now because it's been SO cold this winter.
 

jferrier

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I bought this tree in Dec 2010 from a mom and pop landscape nursery. Did a heavy pruning then and repotted in slightly larger container with about a 75% grit and 25% soil/mulch mix. I did no root pruning. The tree has been outside all winter and only put into an unheated metal shed at night when there were high winds. I am in Fort Worth, TX and as the saying around here goes “if you don’t like the weather, wait a week.” The temps this winter had been mild with only a few nights in the lower 30’s and maybe 2 days of light frost. Avg. temps have been in the 40’s to 60’s with a few days reaching nearly 70 before the freeze. So bringing it inside wasn’t really much of a change since my house stays in the mid 60’s. I brought it in the night before the freeze as temps were in the mid 40’s and dropped to about 13 by mid morning. I put it back out 3 days later at about the same temp (40's). Here we are a week later and we are back in the 70’s again. So I don’t think the tree was exactly woken up from dormancy from being brought inside. I did read that drying out or winter burn usually occurs on the top and outermost limbs and this is the case here. So I’m hoping it just got too dry inside since I’ve been keeping it on the dry side anyways to avoid winter waterlog. The buds still look ok so I think it will survive. On a side note all my Japanese Black pine seedlings and several of my pinyon pines that did not come in have suffered severe needle damage and I'm afraid most of the Black pines won't survive.
 

jferrier

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Bill,
Missed one of your questions. The tree has about a 2.5 to 3" dia. base and is about 18" tall. Roots appeared to be in good shape with new white tips when repotted. Some fine roots just at the top had dried where soil had washed out of the container while at the nursery.
 

Dav4

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I bought this tree in Dec 2010 from a mom and pop landscape nursery. Did a heavy pruning then and repotted in slightly larger container with about a 75% grit and 25% soil/mulch mix. I did no root pruning.

On a side note all my Japanese Black pine seedlings and several of my pinyon pines that did not come in have suffered severe needle damage and I'm afraid most of the Black pines won't survive.



What kind of soil comprises the original rootball? If it's clay or peat based, it may have dried out, and you may not be able to adequately wet it now as your fast draining soil lets the water flow through the exterior soil too quickly. The first thing I'd do is take a look at the roots now.


How old are these trees and where are you keeping them? These 2 pine species you mentioned are quite winter hardy and one hard freeze shouldn't cause them any problems while dormant. My JBP showed no needle injury while experiencing sub zero temps mulched into my garden in MA several winters ago. This winter, it's seen 11F out on its bench here in GA and looks fine.
 

Mojosan

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The temps this winter had been mild with only a few nights in the lower 30’s and maybe 2 days of light frost. Avg. temps have been in the 40’s to 60’s with a few days reaching nearly 70 before the freeze. So bringing it inside wasn’t really much of a change since my house stays in the mid 60’s. I brought it in the night before the freeze as temps were in the mid 40’s and dropped to about 13 by mid morning. I put it back out 3 days later at about the same temp (40's). Here we are a week later and we are back in the 70’s again. So I don’t think the tree was exactly woken up from dormancy from being brought inside.

Sounds to me like these sudden and frequent temp changes are the problem.
 

jferrier

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What kind of soil comprises the original rootball? If it's clay or peat based, it may have dried out, and you may not be able to adequately wet it now as your fast draining soil lets the water flow through the exterior soil too quickly. The first thing I'd do is take a look at the roots now.


How old are these trees and where are you keeping them? These 2 pine species you mentioned are quite winter hardy and one hard freeze shouldn't cause them any problems while dormant. My JBP showed no needle injury while experiencing sub zero temps mulched into my garden in MA several winters ago. This winter, it's seen 11F out on its bench here in GA and looks fine.

The original soil is organic mulch/soil mix. Not sure what exactly. I have other cedars and have found them to be extermely drought tolerant and that too dry is better than too wet, so I've erred on that side and have not watered very often. I think the inside dry air combined with little watering just pushed the limits of its tolerance. I've watered it very well a few times now and it seems to not be getting any worse.

The other pines are a couple years old in pots on a shelf. I was really surprised to see this damage considering pinyons especially spend months covered in snow in their native range. I really think that the warmer temps have not allowed them to go fully dormant and the sudden drop hit them when the were still active. They all looked great before the freeze.
 

Dav4

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Generally speaking, it's not good to have 2 different soil types together in a pot...once the heavier soil dries out, it's almost impossible to re moisten, and even drought tolerant species will get too dry. I would re-pot now, with the goal of removing most of the original soil from 50% of the rootball. In a year or two, I'd repeat this on the other 50% of the rootball. Good luck,

Dave
 

october

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How about posting a pic of the tree... It is always nice to see the tree that we are discussing and assessing:D
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Stating that it was purchased in December, heavily pruned, then repotted would have been useful information in the first post...this tree has been through the ringer this winter. If it survives, give it a place of honor on your bench!

Bonsai is ALL about doing the right work at the right time.
 

jferrier

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Stating that it was purchased in December, heavily pruned, then repotted would have been useful information in the first post...this tree has been through the ringer this winter. If it survives, give it a place of honor on your bench!

Bonsai is ALL about doing the right work at the right time.

Ok. Then can you please tell me in detail what was wrong with this process? Repotting entailed pulling the whole of the root ball out of the pot and placing it in a larger pot and filling the void with soil. No root disturbance. And maybe I'm wrong but the sources I checked stated it was a good time of year to make major cuts. I'm assuming you have worked w/ cedars, so when do you usually make these kind of cuts?
 
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jferrier

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How about posting a pic of the tree... It is always nice to see the tree that we are discussing and assessing:D

Its just a large garden center tree at this point. Nothing much to comment on as far as aesthetics are concerned.
 

yamins

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Its just a large garden center tree at this point. Nothing much to comment on as far as aesthetics are concerned.

A close-up picture of the browning foliage could help diagnose the problem (maybe). I've had problems with browned-foliage cedars before, and posting pictures was helpful in helping others diagnose the issue (which was probably fungus in my case).

Dan
 

jferrier

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A close-up picture of the browning foliage could help diagnose the problem (maybe). I've had problems with browned-foliage cedars before, and posting pictures was helpful in helping others diagnose the issue (which was probably fungus in my case).

Dan

I'll add one tonight or tomorrow morning.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Ok. Then can you please tell me in detail what was wrong with this process? Repotting entailed pulling the whole of the root ball out of the pot and placing it in a larger pot and filling the void with soil. No root disturbance. And maybe I'm wrong but the sources I checked stated it was a good time of year to make major cuts. I'm assuming you have worked w/ cedars, so when do you usually make these kind of cuts?

Sure:
1. Repotting is not done in the winter; it is safely done at bud-break in the spring; after all the stored energy in the roots have pushed up into the crown, causing growth.

2. Slip-potting can cause a phenomenon known as "soil collapse", especially when it's coupled with drastic top-pruning, which reduces the use of water. Read about it here: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overpot.htm

3. Heavy pruning is fine in the winter, but take it slow, 1 Major process a year.

4. Wintering a tree should not involve moving it around all winter. Find a good place (sheltered from sun and wind, where the temperatures can remain fairly even) and leave it alone. Bringing it inside should not be part of the over-wintering plan.

5. Cedar don't like root disturbances, so they're not a particularly forgiving bonsai species.

6. The first post didn't address everything that was done to the tree in the previous 3 months; which is relevant information. Be sure to give the full story so a good diagnosis can be made.
 

jferrier

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Sure:
1. Repotting is not done in the winter; it is safely done at bud-break in the spring; after all the stored energy in the roots have pushed up into the crown, causing growth.

2. Slip-potting can cause a phenomenon known as "soil collapse", especially when it's coupled with drastic top-pruning, which reduces the use of water. Read about it here: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overpot.htm

3. Heavy pruning is fine in the winter, but take it slow, 1 Major process a year.

4. Wintering a tree should not involve moving it around all winter. Find a good place (sheltered from sun and wind, where the temperatures can remain fairly even) and leave it alone. Bringing it inside should not be part of the over-wintering plan.

5. Cedar don't like root disturbances, so they're not a particularly forgiving bonsai species.

6. The first post didn't address everything that was done to the tree in the previous 3 months; which is relevant information. Be sure to give the full story so a good diagnosis can be made.

Thanks for the time put into your explanation. Let me try and understand each point. I'm not trying to be contradictory as I have lots to learn.

1. I was aware of Spring being the best time to repot. Though I thought this was mainly in regards to root pruning. I didn't consider slipping it out of one container and into another without disturbing the roots to be a dangerous maneuver. What can this action cause to happen that I'm not aware of besides the overwatering issue from the article you posted?

2. I read the article on slip potting. The upsize in my situation was minimal. This article was also stating that this caused too much water retention. I'm 100% certain this is not a problem. My moisture meter shows the soil the following day in an acceptable range for cedars and on the dry side. Am I missing something?

3. agreed

4. You said where the "temps remain fairly even". My previous posts have detailed the drop from 70's down to 13-15 back to 70's in little over a weeks time frame. I may be wrong but I didn't view these kind of drops as temps remaining fairly even. Are you saying that these kinds of drops are ok for cedars and I should not worry? Then there was the warm winter with many days in the 50's-60's that we have had. I assumed my house in the 60's would be more even than outside. I didn't consider the dryness of the inside air though.

5. agreed, and that's why I did nothing to the roots. No cutting, removal of soil, or wiring. With my other cedar I've had for a few years, I only cut away small sections of roots at a time.

6. agreed, it didn't occur to me that these processes might have been a cause and not to mention my typing skills suck, so I didn't include that extra bit. You are right though and more information would have been better.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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One question we haven't discussed is, what was the purpose of slip-potting it in the first place?

As for the moisture meter: slip-potting in this example means that the outside roots that were previously in contact with the pot were suddenly in contact with soil which would retain some amount of water. In dormancy, roots aren't growing and colonizing the soil, and when they're in contact with wet soil, they can rot; even if the in-tact root ball is drying normally. Eventually, this can cause problems.

On even overwintering temperatures: without a geographic area in your profile, I'm generalizing a little, but a good winter site is one that's out of the sun, out of the wind, and if outside, trees are mulched in so that soil temperatures don't fluctuate much, even if outside temperatures do swing up or down. As an example, here is a photo of mine. They are under East-facing benches with a wall to the West, and mulched under 4"-6" of pine straw. They get light, but very little direct sunlight, and even if the temps get warm, the shade and mulch keep the temperatures pretty constant. Watering is reduced to about monthly. I keep only temperate-zone trees and have had temperatures as low as 11F.

Hopefully this helps. Has the condition of the cedar changed any?
 

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jferrier

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One question we haven't discussed is, what was the purpose of slip-potting it in the first place?

As for the moisture meter: slip-potting in this example means that the outside roots that were previously in contact with the pot were suddenly in contact with soil which would retain some amount of water. In dormancy, roots aren't growing and colonizing the soil, and when they're in contact with wet soil, they can rot; even if the in-tact root ball is drying normally. Eventually, this can cause problems.

On even overwintering temperatures: without a geographic area in your profile, I'm generalizing a little, but a good winter site is one that's out of the sun, out of the wind, and if outside, trees are mulched in so that soil temperatures don't fluctuate much, even if outside temperatures do swing up or down. As an example, here is a photo of mine. They are under East-facing benches with a wall to the West, and mulched under 4"-6" of pine straw. They get light, but very little direct sunlight, and even if the temps get warm, the shade and mulch keep the temperatures pretty constant. Watering is reduced to about monthly. I keep only temperate-zone trees and have had temperatures as low as 11F.

Hopefully this helps. Has the condition of the cedar changed any?

Brian:
I slip potted because I felt it was too root bound in the original nursery container and hoped giving the roots some room to grow would increase the flush of spring growth. The root tips were fat and white, and I thought this meant that they were actively growing. The temps certainly had not been consistently low enough to induce dormancy.
I'm in Fort Worth so temps pretty similar to yours but probably less humid and more over 100 degree days. My cedars had been in full morning sun on nice days and in my coldframe during windy and overly wet days.
The tree has not gotten any worse, and I've seen one bud break on my atlas cedar, so with the 70's- 80's we are expected to have the next few weeks I should know really soon if it is going to recover.
Any thoughts on what to do next? I had planned to just leave it alone till next season. Thanks for all your feedback.
 

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