Drought damage to conifers

Asked February 3, 2020, 2:16 AM EST

Hi, I have two northern white-cedars in my property in Australia - we have had a severe drought the last two years, and now since mid-summer I have noticed browning in about 70% of the foliage of the trees (see photos). Unfortunately I have neglected to water these trees this season as we have been away, but am wondering now whether they are able to recover from the damage, or if it is too late? If watering, how often would you recommend a soaking? Thanks for your help

Outside United States

1 Response

Hello, and thanks for using the Ask an Expert System.

I am a Master Gardener in northeastern Pennsylvania, U.S.A. So my knowledge of Australian trees is limited except for a few of them that have become severe pests in the U.S.
I am very sorry to hear about the damage on your trees. I have read a lot about your drought and the recent fires.
I suspect the brown branches on your trees may be dead, but I would leave them untouched for now. As far as your watering question, I would recommend a thorough watering applied slowly to allow the water to reach the roots. I would water again whenever the soil is dry. In other words, do not water again until the upper level of the soil is dry. Keep monitoring the soil regularly and apply water as needed.
I wish you the best with the weather and your trees.