Yellow interior needles on your Balsum Fir

Asked September 20, 2019, 4:27 PM EDT

What causes yellow needles on my recently transplanted Balsam Fir Evergreen? Too much water? It is Sandy soil. Not enough water?

Anoka County Minnesota

1 Response

Thanks for the question.

There are several reasons why your balsam may have needle yellowing and even loss. In your case there are two obvious ones.

1). Transplanting a tree can cause much stress upon it. The larger the tree, the more stress is created. If this is the cause, there is not much to do at this time other than just keep up your daily watering. Do not remove any yellowing needles as often they are replaced with new growth. See:

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/replanted-plant-now-its-drooping-91488.html

http://blog.davey.com/2017/11/help-a-newly-planted-evergreen-turning-yellow-brown-or-dying/

https://www.thoughtco.com/minimize-tree-transplant-shock-1343516

2). It is normal for balsam and other conifers to experience what is called “needle drop”. This typically occurs in the fall. Again if this is the cause, there is no need to do anything but to continue watering. As was the case for the first possible cause, do not remove any yellowing needles since new growth should occur. See:

https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1999/10-8-1999/conneedledr.html

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/fall_needle_drop_a_natural_phenomenon_in_conifers

Here is my suggestion. Do not do any pruning of your balsam this fall. Moreover, do not attempt to fertilize it. Just keep watering. Should it still look unhealthy in spring 2020, please get back to us.

If it was planted with a southern exposure, it is possible that during the coming winter it may experience sunscald. The following will describe certain proactive measures that you might take this fall (click on the sunscald link):

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/protecting-trees-and-shrubs-winter

Good Luck!!