Hinoki Branch Dieback

Hey Gang,
I’m having some dieback in the crown of my hinoki.
The last repot was in Feb 2020. It grew well that year. Then, sometime earlier this year, the back branch in the crown began to slowly recede. There is some browning on a few other branches on the back side of the tree. All the dieback is on the south side of the tree. The location of the tree gets full sun year round. I would say the overall color of the tree started to yellow ou a bit this summer. The tree has been left to grow for 2 growing seasons.
Any thoughts on cause.

Dieback on rear branch

Branch just below dead branch.

Another rear branch a little lower down on the tree

Front of the crown


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Hi Ryan, looking at the photos it could be a number of things, have you checked for spider mites and scale? Is it possible you may have let it dry out, hinokis hate being dry. Lastly is your water high pH? Hinoki Cypress are lime haters though not acid lovers so rain water is best for them.

Hi Keith,
Definitely not spider mites.
The location, while in full sun, does provide shade on the container. I’m doubtful it’s an under watering issue.
One interesting thing I noticed is that while the foliage on this one branch has all browned out the branch itself is still living.
There is no visible pest infestation.
The water ph here is high, but would the effects be so localized to one branch of the tree?
I have had the tree since 2017. It has always grown vigorously. Other branches seem full and are growing well.

Thank so much for sharing any thoughts you all may have.



I have had this same issue with my Hinoki’s both the bonsai and my landscape trees. I have seen this and never knew the true “root cause”. However, I think it was a water issue and in my case probably over-watering. I did the whole balance of water and oxygen as Ryan Neil preaches and the trees improved.

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Ryan, could it be (without upsetting you of course) mechanical damage when wiring?

You got a lot of nerve coming in here suggesting things like that! :wink:
I have definitely damaged my share of branches, but in this case I’m doubtful that is the cause. The die back was so slow (unfolded over 6 months or so). During that time only small portions of the foliage on that branch were affected at any one time, all while the other foliage on that very same branch was seemingly unaffected. Once a couple of small pieces browned out I would trim or pluck them off only to find a few more spots browning out a week or two later.
This is a very large tree in a fairly shallow container and I tend to keep it well watered. I’m going to tilt the container up and maintain my same watering pace (minimal) for this time of year. I thinking water is pooling in the bottom of the container. Maybe in some low spots at the corners.

PHEW!! Glad you weren’t upset. There is a video where Ryan drills some extra drainage holes in his pots. Might be worth trying.

I might go that route.
Thanks all!

Finger sized diamond drill, go slow and keep it wet/ cool. Don’t push the last portion to avoid blowout…
My, smaller, 20 yo HC never liked to be wired. Lost smaller limbs at every step. WAS a very happy tree.
Over the last 5 years, lost 4 larger lower limbs and top. Last two summers were HOT and dry. 108F. Shallow pot. Probably didn’t over water…
Died this summer…

That’s a shame Kurt. Sometimes though, no matter what we do they still perish. After the grieving period we get some more to compensate for thee loss… :grin: