Italian Cypress Browning

Julie Connolly asked 12 years ago
We planted Italian Cypress trees in raised beds six years ago. We’ve had problems with drooping branches and browning and replaced one tree last year as it got so brown. This is now showing signs of browning. We water regularly with a drip watering system but the soil is still quite dry. I’ve checked blogs but get conflicting info about the trees being drought tolerant and problems with overwatering but others say the rootball may be too dry. Need advice please!

1 Answers

Gerry Daly Staff answered 4 years ago
The slender Italian cypress is a fine tree, and very beautiful in Mediterranean climates, but there are very few old specimens in Ireland and most are showing the signs of Irish climatic conditions. By and large, it is too cold, too dull and too windy here for this species.

They suffer lack of vigour in these conditions and tend to droop, become loose in the branches and trun brown in patches. Only in sheltered coastal conditions do they cope reasonably well.

As a species, in the right climate, it can send down deep roots and it is very drought resistant. Water-logging, even persisently wet soil, leads to reduced air capacity and roots die.

A tree replaced just this year could be suffering either drought, not enough water, or airlessness in the soil due to over-watering. A drip system can be good as it allows air to penetrate but you need to get the balance right. Also it is possible that the water is going down but is blocked and backing up so that the bottom part of the root ball is too wet.  

Just at the edge of the root ball, make a small narrow hole with a trowel to inspect the soil and see if you can glean more information on the root conditions and act accordingly.