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 October 10, 2018 > Hi Alexander, Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can be helpful when hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Alexander.
  • Alexander Casanova October 3, 2018 >Please call me at+19072309817
  • The Tree Doctor June 25, 2018 >Hi Joanne, I recommend that you have a certified arborist come out and take a look at that tree. They will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. You can contact your local Davey office directly at (503) 205-6383. You can also complete a quick consultation request form on their local webpage here: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/portland-tree-service/#main-form. Best of luck to you. Here if you have any more questions, Joanne.
  • joanne reifenheiser June 24, 2018 >I have a pine tree that the branches are turning brown, if I use dolomite can it cure this problem? If not what can I do to stop it from dying?
  • The Tree Doctor December 21, 2017 >Hi there, Cheryl. Thanks so much for reaching out. Unfortunately, Davey Tree doesn't provide residential tree service in your neck of the woods! Wishing you and your trees the best, Cheryl.
  • Cheryl Townlian December 20, 2017 >Interested in the spray discussed. One tree that is more open to the elements is browning on the SE side.
  • 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!
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