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Dallas Morning News - July 13, 2017

Italian Cypress Solution

Would I plant any Italian cypresses in my garden or design them into anyone else’s garden? No – but there is a solution to the common problems that these dramatic trees have. The solution is the same we have used successfully on other disease issues - such as oak wilt, rose rosette, photinia leaf spot (entomosporium) and other so called “hard to control” diseases. 
Italian cypress trees have several built-in issues. For starts they are not well suited for the Dallas, Fort Worth area. They would much prefer the milder weather and the arid hillsides of Italy or Greece. They are susceptible to mites and bagworms when in stress and root rot disease can be a problem in poorly-drained soil. But, the main culprit here lately is a fungal canker. It is a devastating disease that has deformed and killed many trees, especially on sites where the drainage is not sufficient. Over-watering is also a common mistake and a common cause of problems. Fungal diseases hit plants that are in stress from soil related and sometimes environmental problems. The heavier than normal rains are also part of this story. There are sprays such as hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 with water that can be used to knock the disease back but you have to change the cause of the stress or the disease will return. The most common cause of stress is the tree being too deep in the ground. 
The solution is what we call the Sick Tree Treatment. The first and most important step of the treatment is removing the soil and mulch from the base of the trees. Almost all Italian cypresses have been planted too deeply. They are usually too deep in the containers when purchased from the nurseries, get planted too low and then have too much mulch added on top. The result is severely buried flares. The flares are part of the trunks (not the root systems) and should be exposed to air. The root flares (or trunk flares) of the trees should be dramatically exposed, not just barely exposed. If you very careful, this exposure can be done with hand tools and a leaf blower. The rest of the STT is to aerate the root system and then while the punched holes are still open apply all the basic amendments we organic gardeners use for bed preparation: quality compost, lava sand, green sand (or Magic Sand by Ladybug), whole ground cornmeal If you need professional help make sure to hire a tree care company that understands the importance of exposed flares, has an air spade and uses organic techniques. 

Loosen the soil (carefully) with a large garden knife or chisel.

Brush the soil away.

Or blow the loose soil away.

This small tree had about 6in of soil removed.



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