The Q&A Archives: Interior Borwning Of Emerald Arborvitae

Question: Early this summer I bought and planted as a border line hedge 35 emerald arbortivae that were about 4-5 feet. I watered the plants 2X each week throghout the summer and fall to this time. Until recently, the plants all seemed to be doing great with good green color, good growth and sending roots everywhere. Last week, the first week of October, I noticed that all the plants were duller in color and without exception the bottom and come interior branches on nearly of nearly all the plants were turning brown.

Is this normal for this time of year? Are they preparing themselves for the winter season? If not what do you suggest I do?


Daniel Temme

Answer: One of the features of this variety of arborvitae is that it retains a good green coloration through the winter, so although a slight color change might be seen it would not be browning like you are describing. Evergreens will periodically shed a portion of their very oldest foliage but whenever there is something unusual it is a good idea to look into it. With arborvitae there are pests such as mites which can cause browning in fall (these can be treated with insecticidal soap during the growing season or with light horticultural oil during the dormant season) and also some fairly severe diseases which can cause browning. Over watering could also cause browning. (Although arborvitaes do well with a moist soil, once the fall season arrives with cooler temperatures your watering will be less frequent since the soil stays moister longer naturally in cooler weather.) For this reason I would suggest you consult with your local county extension for a specific diagnosis and suggestions as to what to do -- if anything. They will also have the most up to date pest control recommendations for your area, should that be necessary. Good luck with your shrubs.

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