Dwarf Yaupon Holly-dealing with winter damage

sfhellwig

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So I'll try to keep this shorter than longer. Bought a dwarf yaupon holly near the end of last season. Beautiful trunk, tiny leaves. It was a project I was looking forward to. I buried the nursery pot in the ground like most of the rest of my plants. It even looked fine most of the winter, being how bad it was. Over the last few weeks as we are starting to leaf out I noticed how my boxwoods took varying degrees of wind burn. Then I noticed the holly didn't look so good. Then I noticed that if I brushed it all the leaves fell off. The were all purple/brown with only a few green leaves toward the bottom of the plant. Wondering what would have done it so wrong I start searching to find that this is a zone 7 plant that just went through a true zone 6 winter.:( I don't make a habit of doing that and would have protected the thing better had I realized. It wasn't even expensive, just had a lot of potential. Sooooo...what do I do with it? Leave it alone except water till I see what comes back? There are live leaves so it's not entirely dead yet. I had wanted to reduce the roots some this year and take out several branches to help choose the trunk. I shouldn't touch the roots due to it's trauma, correct? And removing branches could remove buds it's trying to open but will the wounds be more shocking and therefore detrimental? I hadn't put really any work into this tree yet but it had such a nice trunk. I hope I can save something. Any suggestions appreciated.
 

irene_b

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Give it time...No work on it till it fully comes back!~
 

jk_lewis

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Yes. Feed it! Give it limited water. Let it grow.

This was a nasty winter! I'm right on the zone 7-8 edge. I leave my Youpon out on my tables every year, but mine spent a good deal of the time frozen solid and when not frozen, covered in snow. I have quite a few dead leaves on mine, too, but it looks like it'll recover.

They make beautiful bonsai, and quickly develop amazing trunks. Many nursery plants come with quite nice trunks already. They HATE -- repeat, HATE -- to have roots cut back hard.
 

sfhellwig

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I had heard about them disliking root work. I was only going to remove some off the bottom and begin spreading outward. Multiple steps over a few years. But not now. As for the fertilizer, I thought ailing plants receive no fertilizer? I have Dynagrow-Grow which is a low number, balanced formula. If that is OK I can at least do that, then wait...a lot.
 

jk_lewis

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I thought ailing plants receive no fertilizer?

Old school! Give it normal fertilizing and lots of sun.
 

sfhellwig

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So what do I do about all of the dead leaves that are still holding on? If I brush my hand across them the fly off. So do I try to brush the tree down to it's skeleton to watch for new growth. There is definitely some green near the bottom, but very little.
 

jk_lewis

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Yeah. Let em' come off. They're non functional anyway.
 

sfhellwig

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So now what do I do with it?

The holly is definitely alive and growing rapidly. I am quite shocked at the amount of foliage it is pushing. And of course the trunk I was so afraid of loosing is still in tact. But what do I do with what's left. Whereas it would have needed thinning and then been a balanced tree, this is quite lop sided. I guess at this point it will need a full year recovery before choosing a proposed shape next spring? I guess I should start trimming back the branches until I reach green wood? Find out what is really there. Any suggestions are welcome.

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a386/sfhellwig/Yaupon Holly recovering/hollytopview.jpg
http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a386/sfhellwig/Yaupon Holly recovering/hollyfrontview.jpg
http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a386/sfhellwig/Yaupon Holly recovering/hollysideview.jpg
 

rockm

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You can prune back to green wood, although I'd be VERY careful in doing so to avoid pruning off living tissue. When I've gotten winter die back on trees (and this winter I had more than usual), I nibble individual branches back an inch or less at a time AFTER the leaves harden off. If you are too aggressive and take much more than than an inch at a time, you can wind up taking off living branches. Also if you start taking off dead wood before the plant has fully leafed out, you can kill branches that might otherwise push some growth...

I'd bet you've got some die back issues on the trunk itself, which is leading to the lopsided growth. That's for another time though. I wouldn't do much beyond trying to get rid of the dead stuff (and even that is not really necessary at this point). Leave it alone as much as possible. You can't really "help" it get along beyond regular watering and fertilization.

Yaupon is marginally hardy in Zone 7 in containers--although I have friends who have them and say otherwise. It's kind of surprising, but more than a couple of native Zone 7 trees aren't nearly as winter hardy in pots as in the ground--even with pretty decent winter protection. I've had considerable winter kill on Carolina Hornbeam that's only been mulched into beds. Hornbeam are thick as ticks in the woods behind my house though.

My friends also have a frost free greenhouse to store stuff in :D, although I don't know if they put their yaupons in it.
 
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sfhellwig

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Yes, a nice session of nibbling away dead bits. That could be a relaxing time. I had also considered that I might have a nice hollow down one side of the trunk. But as you say that is for another time. For the winter I had at least buried the pot in the garden but I had no idea of it's zone requirement. I knew it was on the shelf and didn't double check for the few "won't really live hear" plants they sneak in. Even the landscape yaupons look horrendous this year. I really wish I had a cold house and this would be one of the first ones in. By winter I should have plans for SOME form of covered structure.

I will be conservative in my nipping and maybe show what's left if it's even worth posting again.:eek:
 

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