Asked May 13, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

Hi, I have a row of 17 green giant thujas that we planted in 2011. They were doing real well, growing and a nice green color. Now most of them are brown a couple have a little bit of green on them. I was wondering how you can tell if they are dead or salvageable and what should we do if they are able to be saved. We contacted the company and they said to fertilize which we did and trim (which we didn't, there is so much that is brown I am not sure where to trim at) Anyways would appreciate your input. Thanks! Mindy Gutmann

Union County Iowa

3 Responses

The winter of 2013/2014 was tough on evergreens in Iowa and other midwestern states. A number of evergreens sustained damage. Damage has appeared on yew, arborvitae, white pine, dwarf Alberta spruce, boxwood, and other evergreens. The damage has resulted in brown needles (foliage). The damage on some evergreens appears to fairly minor. Other plants appear to be completely dead.

It appears that the arborvitae in the photos are largely dead. I suggest waiting another 2 to 3 weeks before taking any action. New growth will develop over the next 2 to 3 weeks on plants that are still alive. Branches/plants that are completely brown in early June (no green growth present) are dead.

Thanks for your input! Upon further inspection, I do notice some green on the very bottom inside of the trees on most of them. It is not what I would consider new growth though. So not sure if that means the tree is still viable. Anyways, is trimming the brown off suggested or will the brown foilage eventually fall off on its own and be replaced by new growth?

After 2 to 3 weeks, if the only live growth is at the very base of the arborvitae, I would be inclined to remove the plants as full recovery is not likely.