Jun 12, 2016

Flood Disease Damage to Trees and Shrubs

I knew when I found these several years back that I should stay away from them.  I couldn't resist and for only $5 a piece.  
I had heard about the diseases that were affecting Leyland Cypress but I still couldn't resist.  You know they grow so quickly and can provide some evergreen to the landscape.  Yes I had heard that they were very disease prone and that there are good substitutions for them.  I found this link today, which gives some substitutions and tells of the problems.

I spoke with a wonderful friend who happens to be a Master Gardener Debbie and a Clemson Extension Agent Mr. Williamson.
 Both told me the same.  "I'm sorry but it looks like you have Phytophthora Root Rot".  
They didn't have hands on experience but from the pictures told me of this. UGH....

I had begun to just love this tree line.  
You know it sort of separated the front yard from the rest. 
The kids and I had been decorating them at Christmas, because they look like Christmas trees!  

See how pretty they are.  
That is until you reach the far end.  
Yes can you see the brown? 
Oh No! This can't be happening, can it?  
This is the spot I want to put in a rectangle fish pond. 

A closer view

This seemed to start after the biggest flood here in more than a thousand years!  
These trees on the end sat in water for what seemed like two months.  
I was thinking well those will really grow later with all of the water they've had.  
Too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing.

These trees are on another section of the property.  
They were extremely tiny and frankly still are Leyland Cypress.  
The same problem it seems the one on the end sat in water for two months as well.  

This is on another portion of the property, which also sat in water for awhile. 
The White Rose Side.  
I've lost several Boxwoods that are in this garden area.  

You can see I have three to replace.  
That won't be as big of a problem as the Leylands.

I know I hate it but this can be fixed.

Mr. Williamson gave me some advice and I thought I'd pass it along to you.  He said, "The Leyland cypress are very prone to Phytophthera root rot if soil stays wet or very moist for a long time. There would be no control --only preventative measures, which would be to assure that there is good drainage in the area.
When water stands keeping a root system thoroughly saturated, many of the roots will suffocate, and this disease organism can then get into the plant.
Often those trees in low lying sites or ditches will succumb to the root rot disease because these plants may be in soils with more water more often.  It can move down the row affecting additional plants.  However, if the conditions corrected, that is, where the water receded and the soil dried, then it wouldn't spread any further.  The disease organism must have excessive soil moisture to move. 

Phytophthora Root Rot:  Leyland cypress is susceptible to the root-rotting fungus and is a problem in soils with very poor drainage.  Young plants are most often affected.  Mature, established trees are seldom affected. Phytophthora species that cause root rot live in the soil and enter a healthy tree through wounds or the succulent parts of small roots.  As the fungus destroys the roots, symptoms of distress become apparent above ground.  Foliage becomes stunted, sparse, changes color (yellow, purple, tan) and dies.  Cankers may be visible at or below the soil line.

Prevention & Treatment:  Remove and destroy infected plants including the entire root system. There is no practical chemical control for home gardeners.  If replanting, do not plant a Leyland cypress or other susceptible species where Phytophthora is known to be present.

The agent also advised me that I could plant a few feet behind just not in the same spot.  
Major information he gave me was:  "Do not drag the dead tree or drop soil where you intend to plant."

I do believe since these trees and plants that sat in the flood waters for so long
it resulted in their deaths.

We have some work ahead for us.
Check out the link here for substitutions for Leyland cypress.
I love that we have wonderful Clemson Extension Agents here and
they are so readily available to help!


  1. I'm so sorry! I hope you can replant and this won't happen again

    1. Thank you Kathy. This leaves me shaking my head because I can't plant another in same location I will have to figure something out for that area in pots I suppose.

  2. It will take a while but i know you can fix it up again!

    1. Ginger Dawn, you give me some hope! Thanks girl!