Seeing evergreens drop needles often triggers concern. It's kind of like an abundance of hairs in your shower drain. But Fall Needle Drop is normal.
We wrap up this episode with an analogy of Fall Leaf and Needle Drop and the renewal of the cells in our body and skin. We are always in transition. It's part of what we can count on in this life - change. May we find comfort in the cycles of the seasons.
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Mary Stone, Columnist & Garden Designer
Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone.com
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Welcome to Garden Dilemmas, Delights, and Discoveries.
It's not only about gardens; it's about nature's inspirations, about grasping the glories of the world around us, gathering what we learned from mother nature, and carrying these lessons into our garden of life. So let's jump in in the spirit of learning from each other. We have lots to talk about.
Thanks for tuning in, Mary Stone
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Ep 79 Fall Needle Drop of Renewal
Sat, Oct 22, 2022 4:00PM • 8:10
needles, garden, leaves, trees, drought, growth, fall, plants, foliage, evergreen, mary stone, ask mary stone, garden dilemmas, needle drop
Mary Stone 00:00
Hello, fellow lovers of all things green. I'm Mary Stone, and welcome to garden dilemmas, delights, and discoveries. It's not only about gardens; it's about nature's inspirations, about grasping the glories of the world around us, gathering what we learned from mother nature, and carrying these lessons into our garden of life. So let's jump in in the spirit of learning from each other. We have lots to talk about.
Mary Stone 00:26
It is Mary stone on the screen porch, and Joe Lee is going to join me. Hey, Jody, it's actually very chilly out here. We'll see how long you stay, Miss Jolee, although she loves the cold. And I do too. It makes me think that winter is on its way. How cute. She's going into her beanbag chair. Well, it used to be mine, actually, and now it's officially yours. Maybe she'll stay with us. I rallied to bring the house plants indoors last night; it feels rather naked. But I look forward to the winter months ahead. And as I look beyond the screens, there is still very much color to enjoy, and the leaves are blowing as if they are happily dancing their way down to the ground to serve their next purpose to bring nutrients to the soil for next year's growth. That is if you don't sweep them up. Think of them as free vitamin supplements, not litter, as they are packed with nutrients that the trees absorb from the earth in the sunshine and brought to the leaves, and then the leaves bring it back to the ground. It's really quite a beautiful cycle. We spoke about that in episode five, which featured New York Botanical Gardens (I had a visit there) and Fall Leaf Confetti, which talks about ways to put your fallen leaves to good use. There's also a column on the subject I'll put in the show notes.
Mary Stone 01:53
But again, there's still much color to enjoy. So all the leaves are not on the ground just yet. And in the fall, folks are often concerned about needles yellowing on conifers and leaves on broadleaf evergreens, which turned into a column topic that starts like this.
Mary Stone 02:10
Hello fellow listeners and readers. Seeing evergreens drop needles often triggers concern. It's kind of like an abundance of hairs in your shower drain. Andrea of Morristown, New Jersey, asked what was going on with her white pines yellowing. All trees and shrubs renew their foliage every year, while leaves of deciduous plants live for one growing season. Evergreen foliage, despite its name, does not live forever. As new growth emerges in the spring, the previous year's growth becomes shaded. During fall, the inner or older needles die and fall off. Pine trees hold their needles typically for two to five years, depending on the species. Spruce trees generally hold theirs for five to seven years. Hence, every autumn, some evergreen needles fall. Sometimes this is a natural process that goes on notice because only the innermost needles are affected. Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus is not shy about disrobing. They only hold her needles for two years and have an open structure with less growth at the tip of their branches to hide the needles as they undress. Oh la la was what I wrote when I first had a draft of this story, but I thought that was a little bit corny, but I don't know it's kind of cute.
Mary Stone 03:28
While needle drop is natural, like some hair loss, stress factors such as drought, herbicide injury, root damage, and insect or disease damage can intensify the loss. Regular needle drop occurs only on the inner needles. If the entire branches or new needles at the tips of the branches are dying. Or if the needles turn yellow and drop at other times of the year. If something else is happening, such as a fungal disease, spider mites, aphids, or other pests, reach out to an arborist to advise you on the best course of action if it looks like it's beyond the regular needle drop. Maryann from Knowlton Township, New Jersey asked about our 50-foot-tall green giant arborvitae.
Mary Stone 04:08
They were glorious in the summer but now look terminal with orange inside. I noticed the lineup at footbridge park in the same condition when Curt and I were walking there last Sunday, and I surmise it was from the drought we endured this summer. And so I assured Maryann that hers will likely rebound because they're very mature trees. Arborvitae, by the way, shed branchlets that first turn yellow-orange and then brown, so they're bigger chunks on the trees and needles and so forth. And they stay on the tree for some time before dropping. There's always normal shedding of foliage, but drought impacts trees, plants, and arborvitaes more than others. They're also sensitive to wet and poorly drained soils. So if you're having some problems with your arborvitaes, make sure that that's not the case because that's root rot, which can kill a tree pretty quickly.
Mary Stone 04:59
And then there are some conifers that shed their needles every year, such as the European larch, which is Larix decidua. We wrote for Camp Mohican this weekend, and I noticed actually that those large have already dropped their needles, likely again due to the drought, but they're very mature, so I suspect they'll be just fine. There's also Dawn Redwood and Bald Cypress. So don't think something is wrong when they go bold, and enjoy their stunning golden and bronze colors, making a magnificent addition to the landscape. Besides, baldness can be very attractive. Garden dilemmas, asked Mary stone.com.
Mary Stone 05:41
And I have to say there is a photo on the column, and I'll put a link in the show notes of my dear Curt and my friend's husband, whose name is Morris, sitting on a bench in California looking very handsome; I must say. And under the photo is a caption- Baldness can be very attractive. Thanks for sporting your handsome heads, boys. No need to cap it, dear Curt, other than for sun protection, that is -smiley face. Yeah.
Mary Stone 06:10
Yeah, that was a fun visit to my college roommate in California a handful of years ago. So anyway, when you think about it, I was just thinking about this. When you think about shedding leaves and needles, it's kind of like how our cells renew themselves. Our skin and our organs are continually refurbishing. We're not the same body, you know, now as we were 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, or even a week ago. There's hope in the renewal of cells - isn't there? Especially when struggling with health issues or lameness like my shoulders, which have given me grief. I call it, you know, from the repetitive motion of lifting plants off trucks. I'm sure it has nothing to do with aging, right?
Mary Stone 06:55
But aging changes also come with renewal, like the leaves on trees and evergreen needles. They turn colors and fall to serve their new purpose on earth, nourishing it with all they gain from gathering energy from the sun during the season of growth. We are always in transition. It's part of what we can count on in this life - change. May we find comfort in the cycles of the seasons. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoyed our time together. I always do, and please share the podcast with a friend or two and subscribe if you haven't done so already so it magically appears in your feed. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.
I look forward to next time on the screen porch. Have a great day.
Mary Stone 07:40
You can follow garden dilemmas on Facebook or online at Garden dilemmas.com and Instagram at hashtag Mary Elaine Stone. Garden dilemmas, delights, and discoveries is produced by Alex Bartling. Thanks for coming by.
I look forward to chatting again from my screen porch. And always remember to embrace the unexpected in this garden of life. Have a great day.