The Q&A Archives: Evergreen care

Question: I purchased what looks like a minature Christmas tree that had 3 different plants growing around it in a planter at Home Depot this summer. I don't know the exact name of the little tree, but now it's starting to turn brown and the needles are dropping. I tried replanting in a larger pot, but it's still turning brown. Is there anything I can do to save it?

Answer: It is difficult to grow evergreens successfully in a container under home conditions. Browning with dropping needles is usually not a good sign. Depending on what kind of tree it is, it could indicate a pest problem such as mites (common on dwarf Alberta spruce) or it could indicate a variety of different problems such as over watering or under watering, poorly drained soil, or even simply accumulated stress. At this point the best you can do is keep the soil slightly damp any time it is not frozen, protect it from winter winds, and move it to a location where it is not up against a building or next to pavement which would reflect heat onto it. You might also want to consult with your local county extension and see if they can give you a more specific diagnosis of the problem. Good luck with your little tree!

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