Cedar needles getting brown

A cold winter is not necessarily a bad winter for plants. But a dry winter is a killer for them! So, is there a way to prevent brown needles, for example at cedars?


 Brown needles at cedars and other conifers

There are increasingly more garden questions concerning brown needles at cedar trees. Obviously, only those regions in Germany are affected that had to suffer permanently from extreme sub-zero temperatures. This was the case for all of us, but some probably got an overdose. The misery is perfect when there are enduring winds, too.

In this case something takes place what we call frost dryness. Even when frozen, needles always evaporate some water. This phenomenon is called "sublimation". Additional winds reinforce this process significantly. In a situation where the soil is also frozen and therefore only a tiny little bit of water can be absorbed by the roots, the effect is logical - the needles dry up at the tips.

During the last two winter weeks in 2012 there were partially double-digit sub-zero temperatures and after that it did not snow nor rain for a long time. The damage to the needles would have been only avoidable or reducible by watering the cedar from time to time. But this only makes sense in times when you do not have to pour the water on an icy ground. Or, if one carefully follows the weather report and extensively waters the plants before the dry weather takes place - but usually mankind has other worries in a cold winter.


Already brown needles will never be green again and the tree drops them off eventually. Here, if not before, it becomes clear that we are pretty sure that virtually all affected cedars will survive, even if they will look a little ruffled for a while. Dead branches of smaller specimens can easily be removed later, because the cedar is generally very resistant to cuts. For larger cedars it gets significantly more difficult, but nevertheless, the brown branches are less visible.
Finally, this example shows us once again, how powerless we are against the weather and nature in general. But it also shows us the insatiable zest of life of some plants, that simply cannot be killed ;-)