Fall is upon us...

02 Oct 2012 | 12:00 AM PDT | Posted by seasoil.com Staff | Category: Seasons

Fall is upon us, leaves have turned glorious colours and a chill is in the air. We are all familiar with deciduous trees, the ones that lose their leaves in the fall and create a mess to rake up but did you know that most conifers, the evergreens of the garden, undergo a needle drop also?

We get customers in the store this time of year concerned about their pine trees and other conifers turning brown and losing needles. Are they watering too much, not enough, is the tree dying of some disease or did the neighbour spray Round Up on it? Relax; usually this needle dropping is a natural process.

Even though conifers are considered ‘evergreen' they do in fact shed their older needles just like deciduous trees do. Deciduous trees like Maples, Oak, Poplars, etc, have leaves that only live a few months, from late spring until early fall. Conifers such as pines, spruce, cedars and evergreens such as boxwood and rhododendrons have needles or leaves that live for over a year, sometimes several depending on the species.

Usually pines are most noticeable this time of year for needle browning. They shed the interior needles, the older ones, which turn yellow or brown first before dropping off. Big old cedars can be seen along roadsides right now with brown bits hanging off branches.

Sometimes Mother Nature can move things along more quickly with abnormal weather or a quick change in temperature. Also, if the summer was extremely dry then drought can lead to more severe needle drop. If this is the case then make sure the plants get a good long soak before the freezing weather sets in. Plants should head into winter with their root balls moist.

If a plant has been recently moved to a new location in the garden sometimes this can lead to excessive leaf or needle drop due to stress. Water in well with GardenPro Transplant Liquid to promote the fine root growth, which in turn will help get your plant established quicker. A top dress of Sea Soil will help also.

There are a few conifers that naturally drop all of their needles in late fall and become as barren looking as the old, creaky maple tree. Don't mistake them for dead and rip them out! Larch, Taxodium (Bald Cypress) and Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) are a few of these. They make good bones for the garden and will send forth bright new foliage in the spring again.

So don't think your trees are dying if you see brown. If the browning needles are from the interior of the conifer then it's usually okay and perfectly natural. On broadleaf evergreens, if the falling leaves are dropping from the inside branches of the plant or if it's the lower leaves, as is really obvious with rhododendrons, then again, it's usually a natural aging process. We all go through that natural aging process. Some of us drop hair, some drop leaves, just part of getting old...uh older.

 

Article by Shirley Eppler

Cultivate Garden and Gift

www.cultivategarden.com

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