GARDENING: White pine needle drop causes alarm

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Perhaps you have noticed our pine trees in the surrounding area are losing needles. Many of them are shedding lots of needles, so much so that people are a little concerned.

Don’t panic – this needle drop that is appearing now is a normal physiological needle drop that occurs to some degree or another each year. It just happens that this year, it’s quite pronounced.

Evergreens don’t keep their foliage forever. They lose older leaves or needles, depending upon the species. Deciduous trees lose their leaves every year.

White pines lose their two and three-year-old needles. Spruces and arborvitae also shed their foliage in the fall as well. Look underneath your plants and you will notice the foliage on the ground from past years.

The amount of needle drop on the white pines is the most I have seen on pines in years. It is so noticeable I am getting quite a few calls about pine trees dying.

If the needle drop occurs with the older, inner needles, don’t worry. When the new growth turns brown and drops, there is a problem.

Older needles on white pines are turning a beautiful golden yellow and dropping. The golden yellow against the green is stark, making it super noticeable.

Some of the needle drop this year is also related to the fact that we had great growing conditions in the last couple of years during the summer. Branches had plenty of moisture to put on good growth.

Therefore, there are more two and three-year-old needs that are turning yellow, making it more obvious.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

I have people tell me that this has never happened before. It has, I can assure you. Just look under the tree at the number of accumulated needles. It happens every year to some degree or another.

I mentioned arborvitae and spruce also drop needles in the fall. Spruces aren’t quite as noticeable, and again, they lose their older needles. There is a problem if it’s new growth.

Arborvitaes are shedding inner foliage and it is noticeable. Brown foliage in the inner portion of the shrub will eventually drop. Not to worry.

On all of these trees, the shedding is consistent over the entire plant and on the inner growth.

Other evergreens such as boxwood, holly and evergreen magnolia shed their old leaves in the spring. Again, sometimes it’s noticeable and sometimes it’s not.

On another note, thank goodness we got some rain this past week. I finished planting all of the new perennials and shrubs I have collected over the season. These were in my patio garden.

You know, those plants you see at the garden center and have to have? And when you get home you don’t know where to put them so you water them all summer until you have time (or a location) to plant them?

I got all of mine planted and didn’t want to have to water them. I will, however, mulch them thoroughly in late November to prevent heaving of the soil and drying of the roots.

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