We delight in fall’s multicolored leaves and perennials that color like chameleons. Northeastern states are famous for their fall foliage … on deciduous plants. But we gardeners are not so happy about all plant coloring. Yes, there is that ominous side of Autumn: alarming yellow inner needles on conifers.
Take a walk in the woods this fall and you will be treading on a carpet of pine needles. But few of us realize that this natural shedding of inner needles is normal and to be expected on our garden conifers too. This is what happens: we walk outside and see bright yellow cloaking the interior of our favorite Pine or Hinoki Cypress and we lose our minds. Panic sets in and we start to water copiously, thinking it is a drought consequence. We forget to make the connection between walking in the woods and our garden conifers.
Evergreens have a fall season too. They shed their older inner needles annually, keeping the newer outer needles. The key differential diagnosis here is whether the plant is turning yellow in its interior- normal– or at the tip of the branch- a problem.
THE SOLUTION: The solution is plant grooming using your finger tips. Starting at the top of the plant, lightly brush the yellow foliage out of the plant, working your way down to the ground. Needles will fall easily and the fronds on a Hinoki Cypress may take a bit more direct jiggling. You can then remove the yellow foliage or leave it as mulch.
At Christie Dustman and Company, we offer pruning services that can help you maintain the health of your conifers and ensure that they look their best throughout the year.