brown branches in arborvitae - Knowledgebase Question

Upper Marlboro, Ma
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Question by KnightsScore
June 30, 2010
I planted 10 new arborvitae (techny) this spring as a screen. The leaves now (end of June) all have a brownish caste, but we have been watering them a couple times a week. I am afraid they are going to be lost. What do I do?

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
If the color is poor on your arborvitaes inspite of proper fertilization, I suspect the plants may be getting too much water or the soil is remaining too moist for extended periods of time. The poor color is an indication of root stress. I'd water as usual then wait 3-4 days and dig down to see how moist the soil still is. If it is moist 2-3" beneath the soil surface, you won't need to water for another 3-4 days. If it is on the dry side, go ahead and water. The arborvitaes may be acting normally if the browning is occurs on the interior of the plant. Although they are considered evergreen, the oldest foliage does eventually die. That's the foliage on the inner part of the plant. You can reduce the appearance of this dieback by lightly pruning the plants each spring which will force growth behind the pruning cuts and will also encourage new growth at the ends of the branches. Together, all this new growth with make the shrubs fuller and greener throughout. Best wishes with your landscape!

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