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Winter damage – blue turning brown (8 Replies)

Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hello,

We live in Northeast Ohio (zone 6) and have had a very hard Winter, some say its the worse since the 60’s. Its been very cold and windy with lows that reached -15F for over 36 hours and many nights in the single digits. As a result our Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ has turned brown. Only about 3″ of the branch tips that were covered in snow have that healthy blue color. This is our 4th winter with the tree and in the past we never had any problems, but the past winters have been much milder. The tree was bought as a specimen in a 36″ cedar box, so it has some life experience and has always been healthy.

We also have a Cupressus glabra ‘Raywood’s Weeping’ that is showing brown in the bottom and top third. The middle of the tree looks pretty good. Its about 7′ tall, but is going through its first winter with us (planted last Spring). The tree remained healthy looking, until about three weeks ago.

Do you know how long it will take for our once beautiful specimens to rebound? Or do we need to start considering a replacement? Any other advice or feedback is very much appreciated!

Thank you!

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

Hi John, sometimes it takes until mid-summer to know for sure if zonal-marginal plants such as these (both are listed for zone 7) will survive. Even if they do, they’re going to look really rough for a few years as they “grow out of it.” Of course even if they survive this assault, they’ve been weakened and another winter or two like the one just past will certainly take them out.

Your decision to make will be whether you wish to tolerate looking at what very well may be an eyesore in your landscape. Sorry for passing grim news. I spent a number of years living with “zonal denial.” As it turns out, none of the zonal-inappropriate plants I’ve bought over the years are still alive; Moma Nature always gets the last laugh.

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Hello David,

Thank you for your honesty and sharing your experience with “zone denial” (love that phrase). You have made the decision very easy with your kind dose of reality. I realize that we are going to have a tough time living with the eye sore and the fear of another assault from Moma nature. Now that it is getting warmer, the brown is getting more intense and it has my wife all worked up (she is just as passionate about conifers as I am and even more particular about things than I am; I am patient and will wait for things to recover, while she is going nuts and can’t stand to look at it)

I guess its time to look for a replacement and we will donate the assault victims to a friend who has a protected spot in their garden and is willing to take on a free project.

Here are pictures of the two conifers in good health, starting with the Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’. If anyone has a recommendation for a replacement, we are excited to hear your ideas! Thanks in advance!

Cupressus glabra ‘Raywood’s Weeping’ (left side of the above photo)

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Your garden is an absolute jewelry box! Awesome work on a small palette. There are 1000s of awesome dwarf conifers out there. You now have a rare opportunity to find something new to curl your toes. Good luck.

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Posted March 16, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Gorgeous photos, John. Sorry you lost some special plants but Dave is right. Time to go shopping!

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I am having the same problems here in upstate NY, even though I used wilt proof and try to plant in protected areas. Lots of winter burn showing on my conifers, especially on my Chamaecyparis obtuse varieties.Should I cut off the brown tips and on some ill have to top to the snow line or am I doomed? This was such a hard winter and it still isn’t over. Thank you for any advice. Dianne B

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Pinus “Golden Ghost” bought last fall at a nursery on sale. It is about 4 feet. Seems to have made it through winter okay. Just concerened where the yellow stipe is on some branches, has a little brown in some. Is this anything to worry about?

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Ron, I have a Pinus Golden Ghost that is around the same size. Last year it also got brown on the yellow stripe. Over the summer the brown faded away , so it looked ok. Just took a look at mine and it has done the same thing again.Sure hope as it matures some, this won’t keep happening .

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Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:37 am

Dianne, many thanks for that response. It eases my mind. Such a graceful and colorful tree I would hate to lose it. There appears to be little pine cones forming as well as candles so I will stand by. Again, thanks for sharing your experience with the browning on the yellow band. Happy growing!

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