browning cedars


I planted several emerald cedars from our local nursery last fall, in the flowerbeds at my children’s school. Most of the cedars have thrived, but the group that is in a corner with constant southern exposure have browned badly.

I am digging these out with hopes of restoring them at home and then replanting in a cooler location if they recover. Each cedar is about 4′ high and has mostly brown branches but still large patches of green. Will I be able to restore them to health? And what is the best way to go about this?

I am guessing I need to prune the trunk/branches that have lost their green but are still flexible.


Good for you to beautify your local school with some of these lovely evergreens.

The biggest problem with Cedars is dieback, which can be caused by cold, and sometimes the problem is due to weevils or canker. Root rot can also occur in poorly drained soils.

It is very possible that the southern exposure may have caused the die back in this case. This is a natural process that takes place in Cedars. This condition can take place abruptly or over a number of weeks in early spring or fall. If weather conditions have been unfavourable or thre is an insect infestation the needle drop will occur more rapidly.

If this is the case in mid spring prune out all the dead wood to where the shrub has started to regenerate and thin out the new shoots if they are overcrowding or crossing. If there is  no sign of life by mid to late spring  nick the bark to see if there is any live green wood beneath, some shrubs may remain dormant for an entire growing season, particularly if they have been recently relocated.

Here’s hoping they do come back for you. When they are ready to be relocated select a site that is in full sun or partial shade with an average to fertile, moist loamy well-drained soil. Good luck!