The Q&A Archives: Browning needles on Mugo Pine

Question: My dwarf mugo pine (appx 3' tall and 4' around)was transplanted from a full sun location to a partial shade location last fall. This year it has had its needles turning brown starting with the interior base and moving up and out. It is now about half brown. Surprisingly it is the half which is towards the sun. This year has been extremely rainy so I know it is not lack of moisture. Any idea of the problem? Is there any hope of saving the plant?


It is really difficult to diagnose a plant problem without actually seeing it, but it doesn't sound as much like a sun/shade problem as it does an insect problem. I say this because sunburn would show up on the outside needles, as would a water stress problem. Since the browning foliage is on the interior of the pine I am more inclined to think it is caused by insect pests. Spider mites are common on evergreens. They prefer hot dry locations and the center of an evergreen plant where dust can accumulate and they are protected from other insects suits them just fine. Look closely at the interior of your Mugo Pine - spider mites are tiny but the leave behind tell-tale webbing. I'd suggest taking a sample of the affected plant parts to your local cooperative extension office for positive diagnosis. They can inspect the needles and branches under a microscope and confirm or eliminate the possibility of spider mites. They'll also recommend the latest control strategy.

Best wishes with your mugo pine!

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