The Q&A Archives: Arborvitae brown leaves

Question: I bought 6 Arborvitae shrubs at Home Depot a few years ago each in a 1 gallon container. They are about 6' tall now. I keep the soil moist but from the past winter 3 of them have brown leaves on them (one is half brown). They are not dry rot but 2 of them still have the brown leaves and the other one has no leaves on half of it. Any suggestions to get them all green again or should I dig them out and put new Arborvitae shrubs in again? Thank you for your help. I live in Waterford, CT 06385. Brian P. Chesna

Answer: If there's no root rot, I'd suspect spidermites. These tiny little pests like dry conditions such as you'd find in the center of an arborvitae. Check for the pests by holding a piece of white paper under the branches towards the center of the plant and shaking a branch or two. Some debris should fall onto the paper. Spider mites are about the size of a pepper flake but they move. If you see small black specks and they move, your arborvitaes have a population of spider mites. Sadly, once the foliage on your arborvitae dies back, it won't be replaced. Your plants may continue to put out new top growth but it is unlikely that they will fill out again. I'd be inclined to replace the plants. Then, to protect them from a spider mite infestation, hose them off periodically during the summer months.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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