Emerald Cedar problems this year 2014

(Question)

We had three new emerald cedars planted last summer but this year we have noticed that they are turning almost white in spots and dying. Several other cedars not in the same spot and considerably older and very healthy until this year are displaying the same symptoms. Going to the gardening centre has not proved helpful. They said just cut off the bad spots and they have had many people with the same problem. We live in Etobicoke and these trees are in fairly sunny areas.

(Answer)

Although you didn’t mention the height of your cedars when you planted them, I’ll assume they may have been at least a metre, if not taller, as many nurseries in the GTHA have been offering fairly mature stock at reasonable prices. You also say that you planted in the summer, and not the spring. If this is the case, it is possible that the nursery or garden centre had not kept the root system as moist as needed, and the plants may have suffered some shock, while awaiting your arrival to take them home. Further, after planting, cedars can drink a couple of pails full of water every few days for the first two weeks (particularly as yours are in a sunny location), with regular watering thereafter into November, right up to the first frost. Without sufficient moisture in the soil when trees settle into winter dormancy, they risk being parched in the spring, and can suffer.

This said, however, and considering your previously established cedars also have dead, white spots, it is very likely that they all suffered some degree of damage caused by this past December’s ice storm. A majority of trees continued to be ice and snow burdened well after the storm. Generally, it is advised not to try to remove ice and snow. For many tender conifers, such as cedars, trying to remove ice by striking the brittle branches actually causes more harm then good. Even the blowing winds at the time, or passing pedestrian or animal traffic, could have caused breakage, and hence white spots this spring. Be patient, and when any possibility of new growth has passed, judiciously snip off the white, frozen areas, so at least you’re not reminded, all summer long, of the ice storm of 2013 !