Leland Cypress

Asked May 22, 2018, 1:39 PM EDT

Leland Cypress trees are dying from the inside out. What can we do to try to save them. We have three in a row doing the same thing. These trees are about 11 years old. Also including pictures.

Carroll County Maryland disease issues leyland cypress abiotic issues trees

1 Response

There are potentially multiple things going on. Leyland cypress was the 'go to' landscape plant for many years for evergreen screening in yards. In recent years it has become evident that they look great for the first 15 years or so, and then start to decline. Very often we see them planted too closely together, which leads to competition for water and nutrients. As the trees mature, lack of sunlight to the interior of the tree leads to the decline of the inner branches.

Stressful conditions like drought or cold winters can make Leyland cypresses susceptible to different insect pests and diseases. Common problems include 'winter burn', which is a browning desiccation injury from drying winter winds. We have seen a lot of this type of injury in Leylands this year. Here is a recent article from our plant pathologist about this: https://marylandgrows.umd.edu/2018/04/11/why-is-leyland-cypress-turning-brown-winter-took-its-toll/

Much more serious are canker diseases and needle blight. Here is a page about these diseases and the symptoms to look for: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/plants/seiridium-and-botryosphaeria-canker-leylands-trees No fungicides are effective for these diseases.

In addition, bagworms are an insect pest of Leyland cypress. If not controlled, these can also lead to browning and decline. Information on bagworms and how to manage them is provided here on our website: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/bagworms-trees-and-shrubs

For winter damage, there is not much you can do other than wait to see if new growth will develop then prune out areas that haven't recovered. Prune only to where there is green growth. (Do not cut into the wood with no foliage. It will not regrow.) Keep the trees well watered and mulched in times of drought. Avoid pruning when the trees are damp.

The bottom line is that Leyland cypresses look good for about 10-15 years and then they start to decline.