October 29


Needle Drop in Evergreens: Why Needles Turn Brown

By Caitlin W.

October 29, 2021

DIY, seasonal, tree care

“Why are the needles of my evergreens turning brown and falling off?” Is this a question you’ve asked yourself? Every year we get questions concerning the needle-bearing coniferous trees of our community. Questions on evergreen needle drop and the browning or yellowing of evergreen needles are among the most common. What exactly is Evergreen Needle Drop?

A common logical conclusion you may come to is this browning of needles must be from insects, disease, or fungus. While there are cases in which these factors do come into play, the vast majority of evergreen needle drop is simply the tree going through a natural process in which years-old needles will turn brown and fall off their branches.

Why Your Evergreen’s Needles Drop

You know deciduous trees for their seasonal leaf drop — when they dump their leaves from their branches all at once. Both like and unlike their deciduous cousins, coniferous evergreen trees also drop their needles. The biggest difference lies in the life cycle of an evergreen needle. An evergreen needle’s life can be measured in years, rather than the few months of deciduous tree leaves. Depending on the variety of evergreen, you may see your needles last for more than five years!

When the evergreen needle’s life cycle comes to an end, the needle will change from green to a yellow, orange, or brown color and fall off the tree. These needles gather at the base of your evergreens, perhaps causing some alarm in you as the owner of the tree. In most cases, there is nothing to be alarmed about. Your tree is simply dropping old needles to free itself up to support its newest, healthiest needles.

Are Your Trees Experiencing Natural Needle Drop?

As the owner of an evergreen, there will certainly be years where the needle drop is greater or less than previous years. This is also normal. Your evergreen conifers tend to drop their needles in batches. If your conifer holds on to its needles for 5 years, then, as an example, a 10 year old conifer would drop the full batch of year 5’s needle growth in the same season.

Does your evergreen tend to drop its needles at the same time every year? Are the exterior of the branches still full of needles, while the interior of the tree seems much more thinned of them? You are most likely observing natural needle drop and have nothing to worry about.

Think twice before spending money on fungicide treatments for your needle-dropping evergreens. Are your trees displaying signs of natural needle drop? If so, you’ve nothing to worry about. However, if needles are dropping in mass all year long and the exterior needles of the tree are a part of this it may be time for an Arborist to take a look. Arbortec Tree Service offers free estimates for the North Denver Metro Area! Reach out at (303) 466-3175 or fill out our Request a Quote form.

Caitlin W.

About the author

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Contact Us for a Free Estimate