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Planting and Growing False Cypress

Are evergreens supposed to be tricky to grow? Last fall I planted two small false cypress bushes in my yard (zone 5), watered them as needed, mulched and added a little soil acidifier for good measure. Despite these efforts, the evergreens are both clearly dying. I have noticed similar problems in my newly developed neighborhood. Should I give up on evergreens?

Don’t give up. The disturbed soils found in new subdivisions add to the challenge of establishing evergreens and other plants. Exceptionally hot dry summers can add to the difficulty of establishing new landscapes.

Start with some of the hardier evergreens and once your framework is established add the more challenging species. Junipers, pines, and white and Serbian spruces (Picea omorika) might be good ones to start with. There are also many good dwarf pines and spruces on the market for smaller scale plantings.

When planting, dig the hole the same depth as the root ball and 2 to 5 times wider. Do not amend the soil in the planting hole. This encourages the roots to stay in the highly amended soil as opposed to rooting out into the less desirable soil.

Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Mulch the soil with a 2 to 3 inch layer of woodchips or bark, keeping it away from the tree trunks.

Wait a year to fertilize. Potted trees and shrubs are often grown in soilless mixes. These will need special care. Water often enough to keep the roots moist without making the surrounding soil soggy. You may need to water near the plant more often then the surrounding soil. 


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