Whipcord Cedar golden tips

Asked May 8, 2019, 5:04 PM EDT

I have a garden/landscape question. Last fall, I planted whipcord cedars and this spring the tips have turned golden brown. They were not golden brown when I unwrapped the burlap from them a month ago. This has happened within the last 2 weeks or so. As I said, I wrapped them in burlap over the winter and lightly fertilized them just after I noticed the brown tips. Is this normal? I am worried that they are dying, but I'm not too sure. Any help as to what, if anything, I should do would be appreciated. I live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. We are right across from Detroit, Michigan.

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1 Response

Thank you for contacting us about your whipcord cedar. You might contact the nursery that sold you the plant and get their opinion since it is difficult to diagnose problems from a photograph. However, It does not appear that your plant has a disease or pest, although it is not uncommon for some plants to suffer transplant shock which can cause dieback.

Unfortunately, fertilizer only compounds the problem because it forces new growth when the plant should be recovering and establishing new roots. So in the future, it would be best not to fertilize stressed trees and shrubs except for spreading mature compost on top of the soil surface.

Another possibility for the brown tips is flagging. One reference gives this explanation: Because they prefer moist, well-drained soil, Western red cedars are prone to flagging after long periods of hot, dry weather that are followed by heavy rain. Flagging occurs when the tree’s older leaves, branches and twigs turn brown. Eventually, the brown foliage falls off to make way for new growth. While flagging is a normal occurrence, the brown leaves and branches can mar the appearance of the Western red cedar trees until the brown areas fall away. In some cases, flagging may indicate that the trees need more watering, but otherwise, it is not usually a symptom of serious disease.

If you feel comfortable with your water regimen, I suggest you continue as you have been and be patient. Cedars will generate new foliage, although it may look a bit haggard the first season. Be patient and write again if there are any other signs of deterioration.