Written by 17:08 Garden & Gardening

Help! Why does my conifer turn brown?

Nothing is more frustrating than when the once beautiful conifer hedge suddenly has withered brown spots.

Conifers are versatile trees with a very strong character. However, it can happen that a conifer hedge suddenly does not look so good anymore. Fortunately, there are several methods to tackle this problem!

Brown, bald spots as a result of too much pruning

Conifers are hedge plants that are generally easy to prune. They recover well after pruning and can therefore be pruned several times during the pruning season.

However, it can happen that you have pruned a conifer too short. This can lead to bald spots that will not recover quickly.

However, there is a simple solution! After all, beautiful green branches still grow around the bald spot. With these green branches you can easily fill a bare spot. Carefully bend the branches to the bare spot and secure them loosely with a wire or tiewrap. Not too tight! Otherwise you will damage the branches.

When the conifer grows again, the green branches automatically grow towards the bare spot. In this way, the hedge will be in good condition again in a year’s time.

Don’t forget to fertilise the conifer hedge after a heavy pruning. This stimulates recovery.

Brown conifers due to too little rain

Especially in the summer there are long dry periods with little precipitation. Moreover, summers have become much drier in the recent years. A conifer can get brown spots during a dry period. Sometimes a conifer even turns completely brown.

The good news? In most cases, conifers can recover well after a long period of drought. But is a conifer completely dehydrated? Then it is difficult to fully restore it. Prevention is therefore better than cure! However, this does not only apply to conifers.

There is no point in giving it extra water just once. A conifer hedge really needs more than that! Take a good look at the branches that have turned brown in the hedge.

Dig a small trench around the trunk of the conifer and fill the trench with water. This way the water reaches the roots directly and does not only evaporate in the dry soil.

It is advisable to provide the conifer hedge with extra water during dry periods by pouring it directly onto the root ball. Also make sure to add extra conifer fertiliser to the hedge. This will speed up the recovery process!

Magnesium deficiency in the soil of the hedge

Sometimes conifers turn brown because the soil has a magnesium deficiency. The brown spots look cork dry and are mainly on the underside and in the middle of the hedge.

You can buy magnesium in the form of fertilizer. This can be found at garden centres and webshops.

Read the instructions of the packaging carefully before usage! This way you know what dosage the conifer needs, and how you can best apply the fertilizer.

In some cases you can buy the magnesium as mineral granules. Spread it over the entire length of the hedge. Then lightly rake the pellets into the soil.

By fertilising the hedge well each spring, you avoid a shortage of minerals and nutrients. If necessary, you can also add magnesium directly to the basic fertilizer every spring.

A discoloured hedge as a result of fungi

Certain conifers can be affected by fungi. Conifers that are very sensitive to fungi are the Thuja, Taxus and the Leyland cypress.

If there is a fungal infection, you can notice this by dying branches. There is also a clear separation between mouldy and non- mouldy parts of the hedge.

It is important that the affected branches are removed as soon as possible. Make sure you disinfect the (electric) pruning shears with a chlorine solution. No chlorine in the house? Water with a dash of bleach is also sufficient.

By disinfecting the pruning shears, you prevent the fungus from spreading to the rest of your hedge.

Do you wear gloves when pruning? Wash the gloves after trimming at least 60 degrees, just like the rest of your clothing.

In general, fungi in conifers can also be easily combated with a pesticide.


As mentioned before, conifers are strong trees that don’t just turn brown. With a little bit of prevention you can make sure that there is always a nice tight green hedge in the garden. Is the conifer nice and green? You can also prune special shapes in the conifer.

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