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Leyland Cypress

(July 2010)

QuestionI have an evergreen tree in my backyard that is covered with the cocoons in the attached pictures. These insects seem to be destroying my tree. Can you tell what this is and what, if anything, I can do to get rid of the insects and save the tree? I've also noticed that they are spreading to the other evergreen in my yard. Thanks for your help.

AnswerWow, that is the most impressive damage I have seen from bagworms. These tiny insects started feeding in May. As the larvae crawls and feeds, they construct the sack or bag around their body which protects them from predators and insecticides. They are typically in their crawling/feeding stage for about a month from mid May through June depending on the weather. By now, the damage has been done--and your tree has had a lot of damage! Hand picking and destroying the bags can cut down on problems next year for neighboring trees, but this tree will take years to recover. If it were mine, I would cut it down and burn or destroy it now. If you have bagworms every year, you may want to implement a spray program on the needle type evergreens in mid May. One application a week with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) or similar insecticide will work. Three applications a year should suffice. Bagworms prefer junipers, Eastern red cedars, Leyland cypress and arborvitae plants.

(April 2010)

QuestionI have a Leyland Cypress that died last year, turning brown from the bottom up. Now I notice two branches on a nearby Leyland that is beginning to turn brown. Do I have bugs, fungi, parasites or chemical poisoning? Or is the Leyland going the way of the red-tipped photenias? Help.

AnswerI think the Leyland is going the way of the red tip photenias, but be aware that some red tips have not been affected by disease and some Leyland’s haven’t either, but disease is spreading on both plants. There is a canker disease that affects Leyland cypress and there isn't much you can do once it hits. It is typically associated with some type of environmental stress. All of our rains last season did not bode well for many of the needle type evergreens. Here is a link to our fact sheet about the disease: If you are replacing the plants, I would consider other options--Emerald or Green giant arborvitae; cryptomeria, or one of the hollies.

(December 2005)

QuestionWe are building a new home and the backyard is surrounded by other homes. We want to plant some trees for privacy. We are considering Leyland cypress. A friend told me they read in your column that you recommended another tree because lelands get lots of disease. Here are some of our considerations: we want the tree to be- fast growing, easy to care for, an evergreen, and not very expensive because we need lots of them!

AnswerWhat we are talking about is a screening or hedge plant. They can be considered large shrubs or small trees. Leyland cypress has suffered from disease in Arkansas. Some other choices include cherry laurel, Green Giant Arborvitae, Nellie R. Stevens Holly and Lusterleaf Holly. These should be readily available in the state. As to prices, shop and compare. Size of plants can make a big difference. If you have the time, allow them to grow into their space.

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