Browning on Dwarf Hinoki Cypress

(Question)

Hi there….we had a dwarf hinoki cypress in a pot all summer, waiting for the spot to plant. Finally we planted it at the front of the house in a NE exposure. Gets afternoon sun. we are Zone 6B. The Soil is probably more loose in the front although I have done very little to amend it other than adding compost to the planting hole when something goes into the front yard. The shrub was fine all summer, and now that it is in it’s home, the centre has started to brown up. Could this be from lack of moisture in the soil and dryness from that horrible unexpected heat we had in September? what do you recommend? Wait and see or something definitive in the spring. I love this shrub.

 

(Answer)

The dwarf Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’) is a very nice plant indeed. It will grow well in USDA plant zones 5-8. You stated that you live in Zone 6 so that’s just fine. They like to be placed in full sun, need well drained soil and should be kept moderately moist.

In summer they need a good supply of water. If yours was kept in a pot over the summer months it’s possible it dried out, especially if not watered profusely. On the other hand the roots may have become soggy from over watering and poor drainage.

Now it is natural for the foliage at the centre of conifers to turn brown and drop over time. If plenty of green growth is seen at the tips the plant is probably fine. The amount of browning can vary depending on how stressful the growing season has been. Too much or too little water or light can turn the plant brown, as can poor drainage and root rot. Another thing to consider is lack of iron or other nutrients in the soil.

The best course of action right now is to wait and see how it responds next spring. Having moved it from a pot into a spot in your garden could have been stressful. Hopefully you watered the plant deeply when moved and its planted in a spot with good drainage. If you dislike the brown and there’s not too much you can pinch it out.

It might be a good idea to winterize your plant by wrapping with burlap. Cold temperatures  and drying winds could also drain moisture from your Hinoki cypress.

Keep debris away from the soil beneath the plant to eliminate insects or fungal spores.