Type your question here!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Center of Cassia Bush Died. What to Do?

Q. I have a cassia at the corner of my house to block the street view of my air conditioning unit.  The whole center section visible from the street has died.  I'm beginning to cut out the dead limbs. I check the cuts but am not seeing any green at the bark.  Is there a chance that partially cut back limbs might still produce new growth?  Or should I cut back to the main trunk?  With no center section it looks ugly. Can I hope the living branches will fill in eventually?  Dig it out and replant with a new one?

One of the cassias and what it should look like with proper care as it is getting at the Las Springs Preserve
A. Yes it is possible you had some winter kill but doesn’t sound like winter kill. Winter kill is most common on new growth, such as the tips of branches, if temperatures are just below their tolerance. If temperatures a considerably below their tolerance, then you will see death also in the older, larger diameter wood.

This is what a cassia will look like armed with hedge shears, improper watering and lack of
fertilizer 5 years after planting.
It is odd if it is just damaging the interior wood and leaving other parts of the plant alone. Another possibility is root rot if it is watered too often or the area is flooded. This should be fairly easy to determine by pulling the top of the plant toward you and looking at the base of the plant.

In cases of root rot, trees and shrubs the plant will not be securely anchored in the soil. When you pull on it the base will move around and not be firmly anchored in the soil.

In healthy plants that are not winter damaged you should be able to scrape the soft outer bark with your fingernail and see green beneath it. This is not easy to see in all plants. But at least the inner bark should be cream colored or white.

So I would not cut anything back at this time. If there is winter damage then the killing temperatures already “pruned” it back. If the plant or plant parts are alive they will show you where to cut after new growth emerges. When it emerges, cut a few inches below the dead part of the limb and into the strong growth, just above a bud or at a crotch (where two stems come together).

If you don’t see any new growth by mid-April, then it is dead. Whether to remove it or not is really a subjective call and not one I can direct. It is your call. With an established root system it should grow back very rapidly and will fill in the spots where there is strong sunlight.

No comments:

Post a Comment