How to keep evergreen trees healthy

How to Care for Evergreen Trees and Shrubs

Evergreen trees and shrubs don’t require much maintenance, but if you aren’t careful they can dry out.

Evergreen trees and shrubs are beloved for their year-round foliage and graceful appearance. When they are planted in the right place, maintenance requirements can be low. Evergreen tree maintenance requires careful watering and mulching, occasional fertilizing, and pruning. Read on to learn the best techniques for keeping your evergreen trees and shrubs healthy and appealing. 

Cultivating Evergreen Trees

It is best to plant evergreen trees and shrubs in places where the potential for drying out in the winter is minimal. The waxy coating of coniferous needles helps the plant conserve water, but winter sun and wind can dry those needles. You can decrease the chance of winter desiccation by applying an anti-desiccant coating to the evergreen needles or leaves in late Fall.

Evergreen trees and shrubs prefer exposure to full sun in the summer, and shade in the winter. It can be possible to fulfill both requirements by planting the trees and shrubs on the north side of your property. They should be planted in well-drained soil, and acidic conditions are optimal. 

Mulching and Watering Evergreens

For evergreens to withstand harsh winter or drought conditions, soil moisture should be maintained. You can slow evaporation from the soil by mulching with coarse wood chips or shredded bark within the dripline. You can mix organic matter, such as compost, with mulch to add nutrients. Evergreen trees and shrubs should be watered deeply in the Fall before the ground freezes. Evergreen trees and shrubs will continue to lose water during the winter, especially on sunny, windy days and when the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the soil dries, the plants may become desiccated, turn brown, and die.

Fertilizing Evergreen Trees

If growth is slow or the leaves or needles do not have the standard appearance, fertilizing may help. Combining Mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus, with the fertilizer, will help the evergreen more efficiently absorb the nutrients.

Occasional Evergreen Pruning

Evergreen trees and shrubs will generally only require corrective pruning to remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches. You may also need to prune an evergreen to establish a leader, which is the vertical stem at the top if two develop instead of one. Avoid pruning in the late summer and early Fall, as new branch growth may be stimulated without having time to harden off before winter. 

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Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.

We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

Categories: Landscape Maintenance | Tags: evergreen trees and shrubs, evergreens, fertilizing, landscape maintenance, pruning, tree and shrub care, tree and shrub maintenance, tree care, and watering

This entry was posted on Friday, January 10th, 2020 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

How to Save a Dying Evergreen Tree – The Tree Care Guide

Trees like all living things have a lifecycle. During that lifecycle, they may experience periods of growth, illness, infestation, severe weather, and a myriad of other factors that may influence their livelihood, including their age.

The team at has researched some of the leading evergreen ailments and their solutions for you to save your tree.

In order to properly treat your tree, you must first identify what is stressing it. When evergreen trees are stressed, they are not shy about showing symptoms.

The most common sign that your evergreen tree is stressed and potentially dying is the browning of a section or the entirety of the tree.

The following will help you identify and name the cause of your tree’s decline:

Evergreen Tree Diseases

NEEDLECAST – This disease is extremely common in conifers and causes very obvious symptoms. If not dealt with, needlecast can quickly propagate and spread to other trees on your property.

SYMPTOMS – The following are the three principle signs that your evergreen is infected with needlecast:

  • Browning or chlorosis (loss or abnormal reduction of the green color of needles).
  • Severe needle drop.
  • Dieback.

TREATMENT – Keep in mind that most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage needlecast:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

RUSTS – When the “raised blisters” of this family of fungi break open, the brightly colored orange to rusty brown spores are revealed (the disease is named after this coloration).

SYMPTOMS – Once the following symptoms are detected, immediate action should be taken to control and prevent the spreading of this disease:

  • Rust colored “powder” spread on the foliage.
  • Often brightly colored swellings or galls on twigs and branches.

TREATMENT – As previously mentioned, most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage rust disease:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

Environmental Factors

DROUGHT – Causes damage and death of the roots. When feeder roots and root hairs die, a water deficit occurs in the tree because these roots can no longer supply sufficient water to the top of the tree.

Drought also creates an environment for secondary infestations or disease.

SYMPTOMS – Drought symptoms may not manifest in a tree for as much as 2 years after it has occurred. But they include:

  • Heavy leaf or needle drop.
  • Drooping, wilting, yellowing.
  • Needles will show browning at the tips.
  • Cracks in the bark.
  • Dieback.
  • Thinning Canopy.

TREATMENT – There is no cure for drought, but it can be managed. By following these preventative steps, you can reduce the effects:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Provide the tree with one deep watering per week, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. Several light waterings will encourage roots to grow near the surface (augmenting the problem), stick to deep watering.
  • In late fall (before the ground freezes) give the tree a final deep watering to help it avoid winter drought.
  • Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain water.

Watch this video for more evergreen watering tips.

WINTER INJURY – Evergreens are particularly susceptible to winter injury. This type of injury occurs when temperatures fluctuate abnormally during the fall, winter, and spring. A warmup in the fall, a freeze in late spring, or abnormally cold winters can all have damaging effects.

SYMPTOMS – In many cases, winter injury will not be evident until mid to late spring. They include:

  • Dieback.
  • Off coloring.
  • Browning.
  • Bark splitting.
  • Heavy loss of foliage/needles.
  • Needle browning at the tip and mid section.

TREATMENT – There is no “cure” once winter injury occurs. The following will help you manage the damage:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Make sure that the tree receives one deep watering per week.
  • In late fall before the ground freezes, give the tree a last deep watering to help it through the winter.
  • Provide physical protection from wind and severe winter weather. Burlap wraps function well.

Your geographic region plays a role in the health of your tree. If you live in Hardiness Zone 9, learn the specific species and perfect growing conditions for Zone 9 evergreen trees.

Tips to Save Browning Evergreens

Saving a browning evergreen depends on how quickly the tree was diagnosed and what has caused the browning to occur. As mentioned in the treatments above, the following will help your evergreen recover if it is not already dead:

  1. Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease. Some cases may require extensive pruning or the removal of a portion of the tree. In this scenario, a tree professional should be called to evaluate the extent of the damage and offer direction as to which measures to take.
  2. Provide the tree with one deep watering per week in well drained soil, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. In soil with a high clay content, this interval may be every two weeks.
  3. Avoid multiple light waterings, as this will encourage roots to grow near the surface.
  4. In late fall, provide the tree with a final deep watering before the ground hardens or freezes.
  5. Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain moisture. This will also help the soil retain warmth in the winter months.
  6. Verify the pH of the soil and its content. Make necessary adjustments to suit the needs of the tree species. Raise the pH using compounds with lime or limestone. Lower the pH using organic material, aluminum sulfate or sulfur will do the job as well.
  7. Fertilize only in spring and very early summer. Fertilizing in late summer or in the fall will encourage growth that will not have time to harden before winter. New growth in this manner puts unnecessary stress on the tree.
  8. Use fungicides to prevent reoccurrences of diseases. Apply only after having pruned away affected areas of the tree.
  9. Provide physical protection (especially for younger and recovering trees) during the winter season. Burlap or tree wraps work well.

If you detect that multiple evergreens are stressed and exhibiting similar symptoms, there may be a larger influence at work (including the age of your trees). If this is the case, call on a certified arborist to evaluate your entire yard or landscape.

The following video shows how fall needle drop is often confused with evergreen illness and disease. Fall needle drop is a normal process of evergreens which they will recover from.

Keeping Your Evergreen Trees Healthy

The best measure of treatment for all trees and plant life is to keep them healthy, planted in the right location, and properly watered.

For the trees you are able to recover, keep a close eye on them for secondary infections and infestations. Trees take time to heal and strengthen their defenses.

Once your trees have had problems with disease or drought, schedule an annual inspection by a certified arborist to ensure that any residual or new problems are properly addressed.


Tags:Can You Save A Dying Pine Tree?ChlorosisConiferEvergreen Tree DiseasesEvergreen TreesFungicideIs My Pine Tree Dead?NeedlecastPine Treetree careTree DiseaseTree WateringWhat Causes An Evergreen Tree To Turn Brown?Winter Drought

How to save conifers

  1. .Choice of conifers: rules and tips
  2. .Basic rules for the preservation of the ephedra
  3. . How to plant a conifer in open ground

Much has been said and written about how to preserve conifers and other types of crops before planting. First of all, you need to choose plants that are adapted to the climatic conditions of your region, and try to purchase seedlings from nurseries. Here you will be provided with a wide choice of crops with open and closed root systems, which is very important for planting at different times of the year. But first things first!

Conifer selection: rules and tips

When purchasing coniferous plants, first of all pay attention to their appearance, the color and quality of the needles, the presence of an earthen clod, and the condition of the roots. Never give money for ephedra, having found the following nuances:

• a large number of yellowed or withered needles, as well as those with reddish spots and downy mold;
• in some places the branches are bare and look dry;
• a clod of earth in the container is dry and far behind the walls of the container;
• there is no earthy clod, and the substrate easily spills out of the pot;
• there is mold on the roots of a plant without an earthy clod, and they themselves are rotten at the tips or there are spots of rot along the entire length.

It's great if you can find plants marked with a compass. Usually these are sold in nurseries, where a label is attached to one side of the trunk indicating the direction of landing. It is usually located to the north.

Basic rules for the conservation of ephedra

Sometimes the situation develops in such a way that it is not possible to immediately plant an ephedra bought in accordance with all the rules in open ground. Plants are sold in stores, markets and nurseries all year round, but in winter there is much more choice for amateur gardeners. Enjoy the variety, choose, buy, because it is not so difficult to save a seedling.

If you have a goal - to plant a plant not immediately, but after a few months, choose a seedling with an earthen ball, grown in a container or packed in a film, burlap.
Carefully inspect the package - do the tips of the roots stick out of the holes in the container or did they break through the polyethylene, escaping from tightness? Transplant the seedling into a larger container. To do this:

• carefully release the root system from the old shelter, trying not to disturb the earthen ball;
• dig into any wider container - a bucket, a basin, a flower pot, etc.;
Be sure to make a drainage hole, and pour the combined substrate of the soil mixture into the bucket, which is necessary for each type of plant separately:
• for spruce, pine, arborvitae, take turf and leaf soil, peat, sand, you can add a little clay;
• for cypress, juniper, yew, mix humus, leaf soil, sand, peat and a little sod land;
• for larch and fir, leafy soil, peat and sand are needed.

Place the plant in a cool area such as a basement, garage or balcony. It is desirable that there is as little light as possible. The earth in the container should be moistened, but the seedling should not be flooded until a swamp forms.

If we talk about small conifers, they will also overwinter well on the windowsill. However, on sunny days, the needles should be covered with a newspaper, sometimes sprayed with water, and pieces of ice or snow should be placed in the root zone. This will significantly increase the humidity around the plant, and lower the temperature.

7-10 days before planting in open ground, move the ephedra to a warm room, and before planting, pour plenty of roots in a container with warm water.

How to plant conifers in open ground

The optimal time for transplanting into open ground is mid-April, in cold regions this period shifts closer to mid-May. By the beginning of summer, solar activity becomes maximum, and a plant that is not accustomed to sunlight will instantly respond to changes - its needles will turn yellow and fall off, and the recovery period will last a long time, and it is likely that rehabilitation measures will not lead to success, the tree will simply die.

Healthy, strong plants that are more than one year old, bought with an earthen ball, are planted all year round.

In any case, in order to increase the survival rate, reduce the water consumption of seedlings to the negative effects of the environment, and also protect them from the aggressive effects of UV treatment, young plants are sprayed with Purshat-O immediately after planting in open ground. This tool was developed by scientists specifically for conifers in need of additional protection and stimulation of development. The instructions for use indicate the dosage of the substance, following which you will enable the evergreens growing on your site to remain healthy and strong at any time of the year, delighting you with bright needles and a spectacular exterior.

Remove all weeds and sod from the area to be planted. If you plan to plant several seedlings, keep a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters between them. The depth of the landing pit should be at least 0.8 meters, while keeping in mind that a drainage layer of at least 15 cm must be laid on the bottom. To do this, take a mixture of broken red brick with sand or expanded clay.

A pit for planting conifers is shed with 2 buckets of water. To compile the substrate, take the indicative components from the list above. Add special fertilizers for conifers sold in stores. It's great if you dig up land in a coniferous forest and add it to the substrate. Puff the roots of the seedling with Kornevin.

Secrets of storage of planting material - GreenMarket

Many gardeners are very worried about their seedlings, the purchase of which fell on the period of unexpected frosts. Plants that cannot be planted due to deep freezing of the soil are in particular danger. But you can’t argue with the “heavenly office”, but it’s quite within our power to try to save the plants and help them winter comfortably until the next season.

In most cases, frost fears are somewhat exaggerated. And on this score, I have three arguments in defense of cold weather.

1. The root system is able to develop in the depth of the soil at +3 °C, this temperature remains in Ukraine until mid-November.

2. Hibernating plants tolerate the operation of dividing or transplanting much more easily, just as a person more easily tolerates any operation under anesthesia.

3. Hardening of plants with low temperatures forms immunity and stimulates the development of a deeper root system capable of independently extracting water from deep soil layers.

The root system is capable of developing deep in the ground at +3 °C, this temperature remains in Ukraine until mid-November.

But consider some options when planting material is really too late to plant in open ground. In this case, you need to take into account the type of plant in order to provide it with proper storage conditions.

All plants are stressed in one way or another during transportation. And if you hesitate and do not plant a plant after its acquisition, it can leave the state of dormancy ahead of time, i.e. dissolve the buds. It is dangerous to plant such a plant in the ground, because it will not have time to take root and may die. We can only slow down his awakening and "overexpose" until landing in the garden.

If the soil is frozen outside by more than -5 °C, you need to store the plant in moistened sawdust and pack the lower part of the bush with roots in a plastic bag. It is necessary to place this bag with seedlings in a cold room with a temperature not higher than +5 ° C. It can be any frost-proof, moderately damp room: cellar, basement, glazed unheated balcony with a stable, without sudden changes, low positive temperature from 0 to +5 ° C.

seedlings of coniferous plants


Coniferous plants

Coniferous plants should not be stored in the cellar. They can be temporarily dug in the garden, in a place protected from the sun and wind, right in the containers. The root system of seedlings should be in a humid environment.

The root system of seedlings must be in a humid environment.

Be sure to insulate the soil above the root system well with dry earth or peat, and tie the plant itself with a covering non-woven material, such as lutrasil. Soil or peat is better to cover from getting wet with a cone of plastic film.
If the soil is so frozen that it cannot be dug, conifers will have to be stored indoors like a garage. They should be placed in a box or box and sprinkled with peat or sawdust. The crown of plants does not need to be covered. It is advisable to insulate the boxes at the top and bottom with something like felt or old clothes. The soil in containers should be moist, but not dry or wet.

Seedlings of fruit plants

Seedlings of fruit plants are best stored in the cellar, after cutting off all the leaves and placing them in a box or box. The soil in the containers should be constantly slightly damp. Before storage, seedlings should be unpacked and the root system checked for safety. If the roots are dry, then you need to soak them in cool water for several hours. Store seedlings in containers, pots or cut-top plastic bottles with wet sand. It is necessary to ensure that the sand is not waterlogged, otherwise the plant may rot.

seedlings of fruit plants

soaked seedlings

storage of seedlings in sawdust


Perennials are cold-resistant plants, so during the thaw you can try to plant them in the ground. If the ground still has not thawed, lightly pour hot water over the landing site, and after an hour and a half you can plant perennials.

Plants should take root within 1-2 weeks before permanent frosts, after which the film can be removed and the mulch left.

After planting, insulate the planting site well with dry earth, and cover it with leaves or mulch with something else, such as peat, spruce branches. Cover the entire structure with plastic wrap or non-woven material - lutrasil. Before permanent frosts, plants should take root within 1-2 weeks, after which you can remove the film and leave the mulch.

Rose seedlings

Roses begin to prepare for winter from October 10-20, depending on the variety. Therefore, landing can be delayed until mid-November. If persistent frosts have come, and you did not have time to plant roses, then they need to be buried. We dig a trench deep into the bayonet of a shovel, lay a seedling, fill it with earth and cover it with a heater in the form of spruce branches or lutrasil from above. You can store seedlings in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf at 0 ... + 4 ° C.

Seedlings can be stored in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf at 0…+4 °С.

In this case, the roots are wrapped in wet paper, newspaper and hermetically wrapped in polyethylene. You can also store roses in the basement in wet sand at a temperature of 0 to + 4 ° C, burying them in the sand for 2/3 of the stem.

bulbs in a paper bag

crocus bulbs in peat

distillation of hyacinth to NG


The lower shelf or vegetable compartment of the refrigerator is suitable for storing bulbs and corms. We place the plant in a slightly damp sphagnum - peat moss, then in thick paper and put it in storage. Weekly we monitor the humidity in the bag and the condition of the bulbs. It is important to keep the bulbs from drying out and create conditions for the flower laying process. To do this, it is necessary to keep them in the dark and at a stable temperature of + 4 ° C. You can also pour sawdust into a cardboard box, put bulbs in it and send it to a cool and dark place until spring. Or another option - the so-called wet storage. For this method, you will need a plastic tray, on the bottom of which we put wet peat or sawdust, and then we deepen the bulbs and store them until spring, again, in a cool dark place. You can read more about storing bulbs in our article "How to plant tulips in the garden and grow hyacinths for the New Year.

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