Cedars look dead at bottom

(Question)

I have two nice tall cedars but this year at the bottom they are dropping needles and look dead. The upper two thirds look great and healthy

(Answer)

Cedars browning is a common concern for many and has several contributing factors, however insufficient moisture is a likely cause of this.

• Cedars thrive on moisture and nutrient-rich soil.  Moisture deficiency after they are planted and before the ground is frozen can lead to browning of the bottom of trees.  If watering isn’t sufficient to encourage strong root growth in the last season or the roots in the root ball were not separated (teased out) before planting, roots may not be able to penetrate into the surrounding soil.  Watering deeply and thoroughly (at least once or twice a week after planting) is key so that the roots can take hold and spread.  This can be done easily by using a soaker hose along the base of the cedars for several hours.  Watering should continue well into the autumn until the ground is frozen to maintain adequate moisture through the winter.  The cold winter winds can desiccate the foliage – once the ground is frozen, the tree cannot take up moisture to replace what is lost from the needles/leaves.

For further information and cultural practices for your cedars, please see:

www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askagardener/emerald-cedars-in-distress/

www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askagardener/discoloured-cedars/

www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askagardener/emerald-cedars-turning-brown/