Fall Needle drop! Every fall we get dozens of calls from clients worried that their evergreens are dying. White Pines are the most dramatic. Their needles turn a bright golden color before dropping to the ground. Next is Arborvitae. The too are quite dramatic. Spruces, Firs, and Hemlocks are not so dramatic so in years like this one, when more than the usual number of needles drop, people really freak out!

To make matters even more confusing there are 3 exceptions to the rule. Larch (pictured last), Dawn Redwood and Bald Cypress. These drop there needles every year more like a Maple or Oak. Here is a listing of typical needle lifespans for evergreens common here in northeast Ohio:

  • White Pine – 1.5 to 2 years
  • Arborvitae – 2 years
  • Firs, Douglas Fir and Hemlock – 3-4 years
  • Spruce have the longest lived needles – 5 to as long as 10 years.

Arborvitae cones also turn brown in fall. these can be even more worrisome as they are on the ends of the branches and not in the center. Conifer needles are like hair, they get old, they fall off! They’ll be fine next year!