Did you have any idea that evergreens shed and change color? It’s a fact. Their name would lead you to believe that evergreens’ needles will always be green and never drop like our Maples and Elms and other deciduous trees.
The truth is every fall at about this time of year most evergreen trees will shed. Others will drop in the spring, and some drop slowly over time. Arborvitaes and White Pines drop quickly for a few short weeks in the fall.
Don’t worry about evergreens turning yellow in the fall
At this time of year, don’t worry if you your evergreens start to turn yellow. If you look closely at your evergreen, such as Arborvitae, look to see if it’s the interior needles that are turning a golden yellow or orange. That’s normal and is what the industry calls seasonal needle drop.
When these inner needles change from green to orangish, those are the needles that shed. Each spring, evergreens put out new green growth. As long as the new needles coming in each spring are green, you can be assured your evergreen is healthy and not riddled by pests or disease. Since new needles are added every year, there is always an overlap between green needles and those that shed.
Some evergreens hold their needles longer than others, making the shedding process more or less invisible. The Eastern White Pine, however, has a looser structure and holds its leave for a shorter time, making the shedding much more obvious.
When you should be concerned about needle drop
Evergreens shed as a way to prepare themselves for winter, empowering them to thrive and survive our winters. If you are seeing a larger needle drop than usual, it could be caused by various environmental stresses, such as drought, herbicide injury, root damage and insect or disease damage.
Natural needle drop occurs only on the inner needles. If you are seeing entire branches or needles at the tips of branches dying, then something else is happening. If you are concerned, let us know and we’ll inspect your tree for signs of fungal leaf spots, spider mites, aphids or other potential pest problems.
Believe it or not, there are actually a few types of conifers that shed all their needles EVERY year. These deciduous conifers include larch, bald cypress and dawn redwood. The larch with its golden yellow and the bald cypress and dawn redwood with their bronze hues can be beautiful in the fall landscape, but don’t mistake them for dead when they shed. These trees are unusual enough that we’ve heard about people who removed them after they were mistakenly determined to be dead. Yikes!
Evergreens need water, too!
When you are watering your garden, don’t forget your evergreens! If we go through a dry spell (definitely not now), please water your evergreens until the first frost.