My Guide on How to Revive a Dying Conifer

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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How to revive a dying conifer depends on why it is dying?

  • If your conifer is dying from a water deficiency, water the tree a lot once the ground thaws. Preemptively, water it before the ground freezes and add mulch. 
  • If your conifer is dying from needle cast disease, remove the infected foliage and branches and apply fungicide. 
  • If your conifer is dying from rust disease, remove infected branches and needles and apply fungicide.
  • If your conifer is dying from evergreen root rot, shovel the moist dirt from around the roots and let them dry.
  • If your conifer is dying from pine beetles, it will likely need to be removed. You can only treat pine beetles preemptively by applying insecticide and keeping your tree healthy.
  • If your conifer is dying from lack of sun, prune the upper branches or relocate your tree.

Is your conifer dying and do you need to revive it? Read on to learn about different reasons conifers die and how to remedy them!

What do I do if my conifer is dying from a water deficiency?

Dying Conifer Tree
Dying Conifer Tree

Dehydration tends to happen in the early spring or winter because there is less rain.

Some symptoms of dehydration include brown or yellow droopy needles, as well as needle drop.

In colder regions the ground will freeze which restricts water from reaching the tree roots, causing injury. Important moisture gets lost through the needles so they turn brown after dehydrating. 

You can’t fix this when the temperature is still freezing. But once the ground is thawed, give the tree a lot of water.

Moving forward, water the tree a lot right before the ground is about to freeze. Another preventative measure is to lay a 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of your tree.

This will improve moisture retention and raise the soil temperature to protect your tree.

How often should I water my conifer?

You should water your conifer once a week very thoroughly and deeply. If you water it frequently and lightly, the roots will grow shallow, causing more dehydration.

What do I do if my conifer is dying from needle cast disease?

Needle cast disease is when the needles of your conifer turn brown, a lot of needles drop, and tree branches die. 

It is a very contagious disease and can spread to nearby trees if not treated right away. If you have more than one conifer in a row and notice needle cast disease in one of them, treat it promptly and check the others carefully for symptoms.

First, remove all of the infected foliage and branches. Get rid of the debris by burning it or removing it from the property. Do not compost it. 

Lastly, apply a fungicide to your conifer.

What do I do if my conifer is dying from rust disease?

You can tell that your conifer has rust tree disease if you find powder on the needles that is rust-colored and swollen spots that are brightly colored on the branches. It is very easy to identify.

Rust disease is caused by fungi that infect the needles which cause blisters that spread and burst. 

To treat rust disease, take off all of the infected branches and needles and apply a fungicide to the tree.

If rust disease is common where you live, choose trees that are rust-resistant. Sometimes the best way to treat something is to prevent it altogether.

What do I do if my conifer is dying from evergreen root rot? 

Conifer Tree
Conifer Tree

Evergreen root rot is caused by fungus and will quickly kill a tree if it’s not properly treated. 

Symptoms include softwood, wilting discolored needles, and blisters on the roots. 

To treat root rot, dig all the damp soil near the roots and let them air dry.

Root rot is caused when there is excess water at the roots or if the soil is too moist. Plant your conifer somewhere that the soil drains well to avoid evergreen root rot.

Too much organic matter can cause soil to drain slowly. Soil that is slightly sandy will drain better.

What do I do if my conifer is dying from pine beetles?

Pine beetles suck the sap from branches from the inside out. Pine beetles leave behind tiny holes surrounded by powder that is rust-colored. The holes drip sap that is yellow. 

Pine beetles tend to attack weaker trees, so healthy trees are usually safe. The best way to prevent pine beetles is to keep your tree as healthy as possible.

Prune all diseased or dead branches, remove debris from the base of the tree that might attract diseases, and water your tree well.

If there are pine beetles in your area, take a precautionary measure and put insecticide on your tree. 

All you can do is be proactive. Once a tree is infected, it usually has to be removed.

What do I do if my conifer is dying from lack of sun?

Conifers need a lot of full sun. Often the lower branches turn brown when the higher branches block the sun. Or sometimes the conifer isn’t planted somewhere that is sunny enough.

You can carefully prune the higher branches if the lower branches start to turn brown. If your tree is planted somewhere shady, you should relocate it. 

How To Revive Clearance Sale Plants
How To Revive Clearance Sale Plants

Moving forward, plant conifers in full sun. It may seem counterintuitive since conifers usually grow in highly wooded areas in the wild, but they actually need full sun to thrive.

Final thoughts

There are many reasons your conifer may be dying, but there are just as many ways to revive it. Use our guide to identify why your conifer is dying and how to treat it.

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