Why do Conifers have brown patches?

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In the northern hemisphere, conifers are evergreen trees that keep their foliage all year round. They tend to grow in cold and/or arid conditions where deciduous trees would wither. Conifers are defined by their needle-like or scale-like leaves, and their reproductive organs which are cones: hence the name “conifer” (cone + fer = cone bearer). This article is one in a series I have written about possible reasons why your tree looks like it does. In this article, I look at brown patches on conifers.

Not Enough Water

In the case of conifers, the brown patches are signs that the plant isn’t receiving enough water. Conifers require regular watering to thrive in their natural environment and should be watered deeply and evenly every two weeks during their growing season (spring, summer and fall). If you don’t water often enough, your tree can become stressed out, which causes leaves to turn brown and drop prematurely.

Conversely, if you over-water your conifer (or live in a very humid climate), it will produce excess sugars through photosynthesis that cause root rot. This leads to brown spots on the trunk of your tree as well as other parts of its foliage

The Wrong Compost

If your conifers are showing signs of brown patches, a less-than-ideal compost could be to blame. Ideally, your compost should be rich in nutrients and well-drained—not too wet or too dry. It should also be aerated and acidic (anything between pH 5 and 7). Without these conditions, the roots will struggle to thrive, which can lead to browning leaves.

Conifers are one of the most popular species for use in landscaping due to their adaptability—they’re native to all seven continents except Antarctica! But when you’re trying out new plants from different regions where environmental conditions vary wildly (like those found in Northern California), there’s always an inherent risk involved if they don’t adjust easily. Remember: even though conifers come from all over the world doesn’t mean they’ll thrive everywhere!

Not Enough Space

You may be asking yourself, how do I know if my conifers have not enough space? To answer this question, you should first know the symptoms of conifers that need more space. One of the main signs is brown patches on the leaves of your plant. These brown patches can also be seen on other parts of the plant such as branches, twigs and even at times on its trunk.

Brown spots appear when there is not enough sunlight reaching a particular area on the plant body that has been covered by other conifers growing close together in dense clusters. However, sometimes even spacing between plants does not always prevent browning from occurring because it can also happen due to factors such as changes in temperature or humidity levels which affect their growth pattern causing them to fall out of balance with each other resulting in poor health conditions such as leaf death due to lack of nutrients being supplied properly into each cell tissue within its structure so they will eventually die off prematurely

Choose The Right Spot

Before you start planting, it’s important to understand the type of conifer you’re looking at. Conifers are not all alike! Some are low-growing bushes and others are massive trees that soar into the sky. Some prefer shade while others thrive in full sun. Some love water and some hate it (sort of).

As a general rule, most conifers need well-drained soil that’s rich in organic material like compost or manure. They also like plenty of space so they can grow tall without crowding out other plants around them—so make sure your garden has room for growth before taking on this gardening challenge

Make Sure There’s Drainage

One of the most common reasons for conifers to develop brown patches is that they are being over-watered. If your conifer’s soil stays too wet for too long, it can become waterlogged and make the roots begin to rot. To prevent this from happening, make sure there is space between plants and their pots.

If the pot is too small for its plant, there will not be enough room for air to circulate around its roots. This causes moisture to build up in the root system which results in rot. You can also make sure there is space between plants and walls or other surfaces by setting up a raised garden bed with a drainage hole at its bottom so that excess water will flow out instead of pooling around the roots of your plants.

Not Enough Nutrients

The answer lies in conifers’ soil requirements. Conifers are heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of nutrients to grow during their first four years or so. If your conifer’s soil does not contain enough nutrients, then the brown patches will start appearing (and possibly spreading). To ensure that your tree is getting all the nutrients it needs, you’ll need to fertilize every year with a fertilizer containing slow-release nitrogen and phosphorus.

While many people opt for organic fertilizers like blood meal or bone meal, these products can burn young trees if overused. A safer choice would be an organic mix comprised of greensand, rock phosphate and greensand applied once per year at 1/4 pound per square foot of root zone area (or about 10 pounds for an 8-foot tall tree).

Don’t Prune Too Hard

You may have noticed brown patches on your conifers. This is a common occurrence and can be caused by over-pruning. Conifer trees, like pine trees, are best pruned when they are dormant during wintertime; however if you do notice a problem with the tips of your conifer branches, or if they start to turn brown before it gets cold outside then it’s probably time for some pruning!

Pruning is necessary because it helps to maintain shape and size of your plant by removing dead or damaged branches as well as shaping their growth pattern so that they grow in a uniform direction rather than all over the place (which could lead them towards more pests). In addition to this though there’s also another reason why regular pruning is important: it prevents disease spread through defoliation (removal of leaves). By removing old leaves from around its base every year we reduce competition between species which improves overall health throughout our yard or garden space!  You can either do this manually using hand tools like secateurs/scissors/loppers etcetera but I recommend using electric hedge trimmers instead because they make quick work out of large bushes like oleander bushes which tend not be very pleasant smelling if left unchecked.”


As you can see, browning of conifers is a widespread problem that can be solved with the right knowledge and effort. If your plants are affected by any of these issues, take the time to diagnose their problems properly before trying any remedies. This will ensure that you’re not wasting time or money on treatments that won’t work for your situation, and it will also let you avoid harming other plants or even yourself in the process.


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