lemon cypress winter burn damage

Asked March 28, 2019, 10:30 PM EDT

Hello! I'm in Vancouver, BC, Canada, just up the coast! :) This past winter, we had a two week warm spell at the end of January but it was a false spring and February hit like a freight train with snow, ice and freezing rain, breaking low temperature records and generally wreaking havoc. I've had to dig many dead and damaged-beyond-saving plants out of my garden but I'm not sure what to do with my lemon cypress. They're in large terra cotta containers on my patio and suffered considerable 'winter burn' (I think that's what it's called) but parts of the shrubs are still alive. In fact, when I take a closer look at the branches, they look green closer to the main stem which is heartening. However, there's quite a bit of dead growth that's all crumbly and dry. Should I give my cypress a harsh trim to get all the dead bits off? Or, like lavender, do they only *look* dead but will resurrect as spring continues? Suggestions appreciated. Thank you!

Outside United States

1 Response

Thanks for contacting us about your lemon cypress. These trees are often treated as houseplants north of zone 7 which is the limit of their hardiness. Yours may yet survive but you should be patient because slow-growers are often slow to repair themselves.

I do not suggest any pruning and definitely, do not fertilize a stressed plant. Apply a little mature compost and mulch, then just wait. As spring arrives, if the foliage is totally dried out, use your hands to gently brush it off the plant. It should fall off easily.

In June you can check for any twigs that are truly dead. Use your fingernail to gently scrape the bark surface of the twig. If there is any green showing just under the bark, the twig is still alive. However, if it is brown and dry, you can trim away the dead material.