yellowing of emerald arborvitae

larry361September 30, 2006

I have several emerald arborvitaes that are turning yellow around the trunk. I planted them at the end of August and I have been watering them once a week since. Any thoughts as to why the yellowing?

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yellowing is typical of root rot. Where, specifically is the yellowing as far as the distribution of foliage over the plant is concerned? Right next to the trunk, throughout the plant, or in sections that include outer foliage as well?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 12:46AM
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That seems to me like root rot as well/poor drainage. If the outer foliage was yellowing, I've (even without a soil sample) recommend sulphur pellets.

If the yellowing continues to the outer foliage, you're most-likely to have dead plants soon unless drainage problems are addressed.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 8:56AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

interior yellowing is normal .. some years worse than others... transplant can increase it ...

you said near the trunk ... it MAY be nothing but normal ...

any chance you have a picture to post???

make sure conifers dry between waterings... if not root rot is a possibility ... most are not swamp plants ...


    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 10:12AM
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Ken, you are right. Went to nursery where I bought trees and was told the yellowing is normal for a newly transplanted tree. In fact their trees were the same color.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 7:10PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Just wondering.... did your arbs ever make it? Did they re-grow the lost foliage?? Please let us know! I am in the same boat right now, and don't know what I can do (if anything). :(

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 10:35PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

its always the same ... all .. i mean all .. conifers shed INTERIOR needles eventually .... walk through any pine stand.. and the ground is blanketed by such ... or any conifer forest ...

BUT .... if the yellowing/browning .. extends to the tips... you have big problems ... dead buds.. mean no further branch growth ... and eventually the rest of the needles will fall off the dead branch ... as conifers do not have dormant buds like other plants.. for the most part ...


    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 9:02AM
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I suspect this fellows problem has cleared up, or turned out not to be a problem. But a couple items mentioned by others in response compel me to mention the following: 1) True enough, most conifers are not 'swamp plants', but the Arbor vitae most definitely can be. Around here, "cedar swamps" are a well known part of the landscape. They do, of course, also grow on more well-drained sites. 2) While soil sulfur would almost certainly not harm these plants, T. occidentalis is a lover of calcareous soils, and as such, the pH adjustment for which we resort to sulfur is generally not needed for this species or its many cultivars. Somewhat unique in the conifer world in that regard.

I live in Eastern Wisconsin, in the area underlain by dolomitic limestone, and these plants are typically very content with the soil just the way it is. Just thought I'd mention......


    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 10:19PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Ok, here are pics I took yesterday of the 'Nigra' arbs I was talking about. By the way, we just re-mulched so you can't really see all the dropped foliage. I think I may be in the same boat as the original poster of this thread. I am SO hoping these make it! But I can't figure out if they are too dry, or if there is water in the clay soil underneath the rootball. My water meter always shows DRY though. Who knows. Looks like mainly the interior though, doesn't it?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 5:04PM
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I have had the same issue these last few months. We purchased 18 Rushmore Arbovitae's in May...they looked great throughout the summer and then started some started to turn brown late Aug. Did some research, ask around and everyone indicated Root Rot. We hired someone to pull them out build a burm and replant them. He said when they pulled them out they were completely sitting in water. Now I'm hoping that they will be ok and start to grow.

I would post before and after images...but not sure how to do so.

Crossing my fingers that they survive.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:56AM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Wow, sorry to hear that yours are like that too. Mine ARE bermed up though. I hope it doesn't end up being root rot. Mine have gotten a bit worse since I posted the pics above also. :( I guess only time will tell.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 12:01PM
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I really doubt root rot that everyone keeps mentioning. Arbs drop LOTS of interior foliage this time of year, and before they drop it, it turns first yellow, then brown. Seems to me we're trying real hard here to ignore the obvious.

And it takes a LOT of standing water to be too wet a site for arbs. They very often ARE swamp plants in nature.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 1:46PM
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I hope your right. However, when the guys pulled them out to build the burm, they said that only 5 had started to root. That's 13 that have been planted since May and not doing anything. Thanks for the info and opinion.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 7:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Last pictures show what I would definitely call excessive shedding, after the dead sprays drop affected specimens are going to be quite thin. Whatever their problem is, root rot can and often does affect Thuja occidentalis - there is wet and then there is wet. A soggy area in somebody's yard can be completely different from a natural swamp, with its different water circulation, different water quality, and different microflora - shady natural swamps may not have pathogenic water molds that could abound on a cleared lot out in the hot sun.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 10:07PM
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Yeah that's true bboy. But just to illustrate my point, me and one of my sons went to inspect a property for sale today. It was fifteen acres, partially wooded, with one hundred feet of frontage on a lake. The portion of the woods down by the lake was dominated by Thuja occidentalis, like it almost always is around here (Or would be if left in natural state). This area is undisputably wetland, and this after another dry year. Some of these "cedar trees" are growing IN water, and that's not at all uncommon. But I agree with you that even though a very high water table, there may be factors at work that differ from a persons yard. Another factor is the adaptation (May not be the correct word) of individual plants. These trees I mention started life as seeds dropping where they now grow. They have been in direct and constant flux with their environment from day one. Quite different from the nursery-grown tree, probably starting its life in well-drained soil, subsequently being moved into a spot with poor drainage.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 11:46PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Hey all! Wow, seems like forever since I've been here... what a busy winter! Hope you are all doing well.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a follow-up to the pics of the new Nigra arbs that I had posted in this thread back in October. The arbs in those photos appeared to have lived through the winter (I hope!), but after dropping all that brown, are now SO sparse you can practically see through them! I am very upset about it, but am hoping they will fill out with new growth this spring.

I do not see any new buds or growth yet (should I be seeing something yet??). What is left on the branches is green, so hopefully they won't lose that. However, some of the very tips of the green foliage have tiny black tips... almost like little black dots on the ends. I don't know what that is... have never seen it before. I think I will give them a shot of Miracle Gro this week and see how it goes. If I get time I will try to take some pics to post.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:13PM
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Hi All!

I have the same problem with Technys this year. Did anyone have positive outcome on their trees after yellowing?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 8:20PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Svetlana, Yes, the final outcome on my yellowing/browning Nigra arbs was indeed positive!! It is totally AMAZING... they came back this summer with LOTS of new growth, after being so sparse I could see right through them! And now they are nice and thick again. Looking at those pics I posted here last fall, I can't believe they are even the same trees!! I am hoping they do not go through the same thing again this fall, and that it was just transplant shock. They were pretty large when they were planted (7-9 ft.).

Now, this year we also have another brand new row of arbs (they are Techny's) on the other side of our yard that was planted this spring. So we will see how these hold up. They looked great all summer, but we had a terribly dry summer, and now I noticed this week that they are just starting to show signs of this same thing. I will just keep them well watered as I did the Nigra arbs last year, and I am sure they will come back great as my others did. That's all you can do I guess. I did also fertilize them in the spring, so I think that helped too. I will have to post some updated pics of them now!

Good luck to you. I am sure yours will be just fine if you baby them the first year!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 9:41PM
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In regards to the foliage growing back. I had deer eat my arborvitae until there was no foliage left last fall. I thought they were dead, but they leafed out nicely this summer.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:31PM
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My Emerald Green Arborvitae are new and very small. I noticed they have brown cocoons on them. What are these and do I need to do anything for this?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 5:29PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA) I was hoping your trees are still thriving? I had the same problem and have been so concerned. They looked just like yours did in your pictures and I can now see write through them. They were planted end of August and 3 weeks later turned brown in the insides and began falling off. They are now so thin but what left over green there is seems attached quite well. I'd say my trees are all 50% less dense now and don't look as wide either as they did. I'm hoping for a positive spring. When did you start to see growth? Were they completely back by summer time? Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2015 at 2:07PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

arb dude .. next time.. start your own post ... many of us dont visit old threads ...

interior browning is entirely normal.. increased by any large stress... like a bad winter.. severe drought.. digging for sale.. transporting to the store and your house.. and the transplant itself ...

you dont mention when yours were planted ... as in last year??? .. how you planted them.. amendments.. fert.. what was your watering protocol?? .. nor what your soil type is ...

a pic of your own.. would be worth a thousand more words .. and it would help to know where you are ... close big city good enough ... as well as the source of the plants???

arbs ONLY growth from the exterior growth tips ... all are nudey inside.. if yours live .. they will fill out ...


    Bookmark   March 23, 2015 at 3:27PM
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Thanks Ken for the reply and will note the starting a new post issue in the future. Sorry about that. I have some pics attached. They looked exactly like coniferfreaks pics when the browning occurred initially (about 2-3 weeks after planting). Trees were planted end of August in fresh loam, 1 inch of mulch. The loam was mounded up slightly over the existing grade. The person who planted them did the irrigation and did set that up improperly so they went 4+ weeks getting very little water (15 mins drip every other day), during a heat wave and drought (less than 1 inch of rain fell total during this time).

I'm hoping like conifer, they reverse course in the spring and go back to the dense trees they once were. These full green tress are frail, transparent, and have lost there shape.

Here are the pics if they help. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 9:05AM
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