3 Reasons Evergreens Turn Brown in Winter and How to Fix

3 Reasons Evergreens Turn Brown in Winter and How to Fix

Proudly living up to their title, evergreens are a constant symbol of emerald beauty in our landscape. They hold on to their needles or leaves year-round and always stay green.

But when plagued by harsh weather or infestation in winter, evergreens can’t showcase the glowing green we love.

Evergreen trees turning brown can be an eyesore and cause for concern. Read on to learn how to give your tree a quick inspection and follow up with protective care.

Why Your Evergreen Trees Are Turning Brown in Winter and What to Do

To pinpoint how to fix your evergreen trees’ brown needles, let’s look at a few reasons why it shifted color. 

1. Winter weather woes

Problem: Winter elements are notoriously tough on trees, but evergreens are especially vulnerable. Roots rely on water stored in tree needles once the ground freezes. This can drain the tree’s water stash quickly, causing the needles to turn brown from dryness.

Solution: If the tree is just suffering from dehydration, a protective spray for evergreens is a quick and effective fix. More info on this below.

2. Sunny days

Problem: Take the already dry winter and add in the beating sun—now your tree has even thirstier needles. Known as sunscald, needles in the direct sunlight turn uniformly brown because of the extra water loss. You may also see dead or dried areas of bark.

Solution: You can try an anti-desiccant spray to help with the dryness. We’ve got all the details below. As for the sunscald, wrap your trees’ bark in burlap to keep them warm and protect them from the winter elements.

3. An infecting intruder

Problem: Evergreens attract a few common pests and diseases, like the pine beetle or cytospora canker disease. Browning needles can be a symptom of infection, along with small holes, sawdust or large cankers leaking white sap on branches.

Solution: We recommend you call in an arborist to figure out a course of action.

What is an anti-desiccant spray for plants? How do I use it?

An anti-desiccant is a waxy coating sprayed on plants to shield them from moisture loss. Applying the film in winter is said to safeguard trees until spring.

For best results, we like to wait until the temperature drops to 40-50 degrees F. It's important to check that there’s no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours. Using the anti-desiccant in the right elements at the right time is essential to avoiding tree damage.

Our technicians do a couple rounds of spraying the formula on dry needles, once in December and again in February. Then, your tree is good to go for the season!

Questions about anti-desiccant spray or the health of your evergreens? Leave a comment below, and we’ll help!

  • The Tree Doctor June 26, 2017 >Hi, Ann! Sorry to hear your fir tree is not looking very healthy! Scratch the bark. If it is still green, it is still alive. Look to see if there are any green needles as well. If your tree is showing these signs, then it is still alive. If you are still having concerns, you can always contact your local Davey arborist at 866.243. 0554 or daveytree.ca/residential-commercial-tree-services/davey-canada-residential-commercial-offices/. Here if you have any other questions, Ann.
  • ann payant June 25, 2017 >I -have a very slow growing fir 8years old and o beautiful shape. This spring it is brown from top to bottom every needle. Can this be saved?
  • The Tree Doctor June 15, 2017 >Hi Ivy! Sorry to hear your evergreen is not looking very healthy! To make the best recommendation, we would need to know when your evergreen was trimmed and if it seems like they trimmed it too much. You can email us at blog@davey.com or check out our blog on reasons why your evergreen may be dying, http://blog.davey.com/2016/09/reasons-why-your-evergreen-is-dying-from-bottom-up-and-how-to-save/. Here if you have any other questions, Ivy.
  • Ivy Walton June 14, 2017 >My lovely Evergreen in our backyard looks very brown after we had it professionally trimmed. What should I do to help it survive. Thanks!
  • The Tree Doctor May 24, 2017 >Hi Pat. Your arborvitaes are lucky to have you keeping a close eye on them! To see if you're watering them too much, look for these symptoms: the area around the arborvitaes is constantly wet, new growth withers before it's fully grown or foliage appears green but breaks easily. Also, read this blog to help determine how much you should water your trees each week: blog.davey.com/2016/07/how-much-water-does-my-tree-need-weekly/. If you're still concerned about your arborvitaes, we can inspect them in person during a free consultation. Give us a call at 914-290-4330 or connect online here: thecareoftrees.com/local-offices/mount-kisco-tree-service/#main-form. Hope this helps, Pat.
  • Pat Mehmel May 22, 2017 >I had a tree guy come and look at the browning aborvities And he bore holes around the tree and added holly fertilizer and I've been watering it every day but the brown is spreading. He said it wasn't infected just maybe a lack of water. I remember thus tree was heavy with snow and ice at one point but the brown started s month ago
  • Susan Herrmann March 7, 2017 >We have about 8 evergreen trees that are turning brown/cooper in color. What can we do in the spring to safe them?
Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at info@davey.com.
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.