Tiny Towers Suffering - Help!

Old 08-21-18, 11:30 AM
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Tiny Towers Suffering - Help!

Hi all,

Im trying to understand what is happening to these tiny towers (mini cypress). It started at the top of the driveway, and slowly has worked its way downhill. First the top tree started slowly browning. I thought perhaps gophers, or lack of water. Sometimes the drip gives less water towards the top of the hill. Though i thought theyve been getting plenty (perhaps not?). Ive been soaking them regularly since i saw the browning.

Then the top tree died, then the same thing began to happen to the next tree down, until that one died. Now it is happening to the next trees down in order. The browning begins on the sun facing side of the tree, southwest (ish). The northeast(ish) side of the trees get more shade because of a large olive tree next to them. Spending about the first half of the day in shade.

Now, I dont know if its a fungus, pest spreading problem, gopher, or water issue?

The house is located in Alpine CA, 91901 (east San Diego county). About climate zone 9b-10a.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

These trees are expensive to replace! Thank you for your thoughtful input.
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Old 08-21-18, 12:53 PM
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I love those tower variety cypress and really wish they would survive in my zone.

How long have they been planted?

Was the root mass broken up when planting?

What are the plastic rings around the trees? Are they in pots in the ground?

I only see a water line running along. Where are the emitters? Specifically where do the emitters deliver the water?

Many of them I've seen are root bound when sold. When planted it's important to pull the roots apart so they can spread out and not continue to grow in a circle like they were trained to do in a nursery pot. If the roots are not pulled apart it makes watering even more critical. If the roots aren't out in the dirt then they can only get water in the small area right at the base of the plant.

If you just have a drip emitter laying at the edge of those plastic rings it's probably not doing much, especially if the trees have been planted recently. Especially when planted the entire root ball area and surround ground needs to be watered until the plants get established. After they are established you can back off and let the roots find their way to the irrigation. And just to confuse things more... over watering can also cause trees to brown like in your photos.

Have you looked closely at the trees for signs of insects? Spider mites can cause the damage in your pictures.
Old 08-21-18, 04:35 PM
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Theyve been planted for about 3-4 years. The one at the very top died last year and was replaced. And now died again.

The roots were probably sort of broken up, but not extensively. and so had some root balling going on when planted 3-4 years ago.

The rings are just a top barrier to keep them seperated from the ground cover. No were they were not planted in the pots.

The emitters drip water relative close (within a 1 foot from the base). They are on a DRIP smart watering schedule that is connected to wifi. It tracks the weather and the type of plant and waters accordingly based on rainfall and temperatures. In the summer it has been frequent. 2-4 times a week.

I have a row of them on the other side of the driveway. All of them on that side are doing well.

I havent been able to identify any insects. Im going to get a sheet of white paper and a magnifying glass tonight and shake the tree to see if i can see any type of insect.

Im not experienced in this, and I dont know if it could also be a fungus?

Appreciate your feedback!

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