Why are your evergreen trees turning brown in winter? How can you fix it?

3 Reasons Evergreens Turn Brown in Winter and How to Fix

December 15, 2016
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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 one or two rounds of spraying the formula on dry needles in winter to help plants reduce moisture lose. Usually, these happen anytime between November and February, but your arborist will talk to you about what's right for your tree. Then, your tree will be good to go for the season!

Click here to talk to your local arborist about spraying an anti-desiccant on your evergreens.

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