Conifers turn brown: this is how arborvitae, thuja& co green again

Conifers turn brown

Every hobby gardener would like to have a green hedge of conifers and also a tree of life planted as a solitaire looks more impressive if it does not have any brown spots. But where do the brown needles come from. It is not always necessary to take action against this. It is important to recognize whether this is the annual phenomenon or rather a disease caused by a care error or a pest infestation is behind it. How to make thujas green again is explained below.

Most frequent cause

Eventually all trees of life get brown needles from the inside out. Often hobby gardeners notice this behavior when there is less sunshine in the fall and it is also lower in the sky. Thus, the main cause is the lack of sunlight, which gives the thuja from the inside yellow to brown needles and branches. Further, in such a case, the following happens:

  • brown needles and twigs to the outside
  • usually seen in September/October
  • Needles fall off
  • comes winter, the tree recovers again
  • new green needles are formed in spring

Treat the plant

Conifers turn brown

If brown needles appear and winter sets in, the conifer needs special treatment so that it can sprout again next spring. For this purpose all brown twigs and needles should be removed from the tree. The procedure is as follows:

  • wipe off the brown needles with your hand
  • wear garden gloves against injuries
  • also cut off withered branches with your fingers
  • scissors are usually not needed
  • it may be also harder with the hands to be tackled
  • healthy twigs and needles are firm enough
  • this also removes any pests
  • tree is well ventilated in winter
  • drives away other pests present in the interior

brown needles due to care mistakes

Always a mistake in the care can be behind it, if the Thuja forms brown needles. Especially if these brown spots appear on the plant at times of the year other than autumn, when it is the normal time for this to happen. in such a case, the location, watering and nutrients should be reconsidered. Thus, the maintenance errors usually look like this:

Conifers turn brown

  • wrong location
  • too much midday sun
  • young shoots and needles turn brown
  • too dark in the shade
  • light, bright location is desired
  • Soil condition
  • compacted and too wet
  • waterlogging
  • wrong fertilizer application
  • too little or too much watering

Often it is due to the lack of nutrients that the tree of life turns brown. For this reason the plants need a treatment with Epsom salts once a year. In this case, the plants receive 100 grams of Epsom salt per meter of their growth height. The procedure is repeated several times, excessive watering should be avoided during this time, so that the salts are not washed away.

Correct care mistakes

If it is determined that it may be a mistake in care, then it should be reacted immediately. To prevent the brown needles that do not occur naturally in the fall, pay attention to the following things right at planting time:

  • choose a location in partial shade
  • morning and afternoon sun is desired
  • Soil permeable, sandy and loamy
  • pH between 7 and 8 is ideal
  • avoid waterlogging
  • Create drainage
  • water regularly
  • Avoid drying out
  • Add nutrients with compost in summer and autumn
  • too many nutrients harm the plant

Conifers turn brown pH value

To achieve the correct pH-value, the real value in the soil is determined with a test set from the well sorted garden specialized trade. Then lime can be added if the value is too low. If the pH in the soil is too high, it can be lowered by incorporating peat, mulch or humus.

pest control

If pests have taken up residence in the tree of life, then it is also necessary to act quickly here. Mostly leaf or scale insects are to be found here, which suck the branches and needles in large quantities and these become brown thereby. If a pest infestation is detected, the following action should be taken:

  • remove all infested shoots
  • do not put them on the compost
  • it is better to dispose of it sealed in the residual waste
  • Rinse the shrubs with a strong stream of water
  • make a solution of soap and spirit
  • spray the plant several days in a row
  • pure alcohol mixed with water can also help
  • in the worst case treat with insecticides

Other dangerous insects for the thuja trees are leaf miner moths, conifer spider mite as well as bark beetle and weevil.

Detect diseases

Conifers turn brown

If diseases turn the conifers brown, then these are fungal diseases. These include rust fungi, pine shake, and thuja scale blight, which are often responsible for brown needles and twigs in conifers. In this case, it is also necessary to act quickly to still save the plant. Therefore, the following procedure should be followed in such a case:

  • Call in experts
  • the layman can hardly recognize the different types of fungus
  • remove all infected branches and twigs
  • put it directly into the residual waste and close it well
  • Fungus can otherwise spread in the garden
  • Proceed with fungicides
  • Replace soil around plant
  • also dispose of in residual waste
  • Apply fungicides also on and in soil

Incorrect cut

conifers become brown cutting defects

A hedge needs to be pruned back. But radical pruning usually results in shoots and needles turning brown. These brown spots also have the disadvantage that they never turn green again and irreparable damage is done. Therefore, it is important that the tree of life receives regular, annual moderate pruning. Therefore, the following procedure should be followed when pruning to prevent brown spots:

  • cut back once or twice a year
  • once in late winter
  • around St. John’s Day in June
  • never into old wood
  • Thuja will not sprout then
  • always leave some green needles on branches
  • always prune from the outside only
  • inside remove old, brown shoots

There are many possibilities why conifers develop brown spots. If this is done in the fall, it is a natural shedding, which does not harm the plant and it will turn green again the next spring. At other times of the year, however, it may be errors in care, diseases or pests that need to be identified and corrected so that the thuja does not suffer further damage and can recover.

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