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How to Treat Needle Drop on Evergreen Conifers

Fine Gardening - Issue 194
Photo: Carol Collins

This is a symptom that can signal anything from a severe tree problem to no problem at all.

1. What it looks like

All the needles on a conifer begin to brown up or drop.

2. How to Diagnose it

A key is understanding when needle shedding is normal and when it’s not. Of course, we’re excluding deciduous conifers such as larch (Larix decidua and cvs., Zones 2–6) or bald cypress (Taxodium distichum and cvs., Zones 4–9) that drop all their needles every fall. Most evergreen conifers used in landscapes retain their needles for four to eight years. This means that they shed interior needles each year and we usually never even notice that needles have dropped. At the other extreme, if all needles on a conifer begin to brown up or drop, it may be cause for major concern.

3. What causes it

Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Sudden and widespread needle…

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