How To Treat A Pine Tree That Is Turning Brown?

Many homeowners mistakenly assume that their beautiful, well-established pine trees don’t need routine care or maintenance. But even huge, thriving trees benefit from some regular TLC. If your pine tree has been turning brown and looking generally unwell, there’s a good chance that it needs some intervention. This article talks about the possible causes of browning pine trees and how to fix them. 

Why is My Pine Tree Turning Brown?

why is my pine tree turning brown

The potential causes of pine trees turning brown depend on many different factors, including the climate in your area and tree species. These are some common factors that impact pine trees and can lead to browning:  

Winter Burn

Many types of trees, including pines, are vulnerable to winter burn. This happens when the tree grows in an open space exposed to harsh winter conditions.

If your tree has been impacted, you’ll often notice dry, browning needles, particularly on the more exposed part of the tree. 

Road Salt

Pine trees and other conifers located along the road in snowy climates can be subject to damage from road salt. It’s easy to spot this damage since it’s often concentrated in the area where the pine has been sprayed with salt throughout the winter. 

Needle Blight

Various types of needle blight are caused by different fungi that affect pine trees. The resulting disease manifests differently in each class but almost always involves browning needles. 

Dothistroma needle blight, for example, commonly impacts Austrian pines. The affected trees develop brown needles on only the bottom half of the pine, usually during the summer months. 

Brown spot needle blight, in contrast, causes brown spots on the needles anywhere on the tree, any time of the year.  

Lophodermium Needlecast

There are several fungal pathogen species, with Lophodermium seditiosum being the most severe and deadly. Other species can simply cause pine needles to develop brown spots and eventually turn reddish-brown before falling off. 

Is a Pine Tree Dead When it Turns Brown?

While browning needles can be a cause for concern in pine trees, it is not always a death sentence. All plants and trees communicate problems via their foliage, and color change can indicate many things. 

In many cases, brown needles might indicate a natural stage of the tree’s life cycle. It’s common for pine trees to lose old needles and grow new ones throughout life. 

When you notice a single symptom like brown needles, it’s vital to take an overview of the tree’s health and conditions and look for accompanying signs of disease. 

How Do You Revive a Brown Pine Tree?

how do you revive a brown pine tree

Unfortunately, a branch or needles that have completely turned brown will never revert to their healthy state. In some cases, however, you may be able to diagnose and treat the issue to prevent the spread of the disease.

Here are some of the ways to treat common pine tree problems, if possible:

Needle Blight

Depending on the species of blight fungus your tree is dealing with, you may be able to help by pruning the infected branches. Certain types of blight can also be controlled with fungicidal spray. 

Lophodermium Needlecast

Treatment for needlecast depends on the type of pine, fungus species, and which part of the disease cycle your tree is in. For some species of this fungus, there is no available treatment. 

Contact a licensed tree service professional to find out which specific disease your tree has. A local university may also accept a tree sample to test and diagnose the issue. 

Pine Needle Weevils

Pine weevils are tiny creatures that feed on needles and newer shoots on pine branches. This causes the affected areas to turn brown and sometimes develop unsightly cankers. 

In many cases, this type of damage will not kill a pine tree – especially one that is more mature and healthy otherwise. Regular inspection and pruning of the damaged branches should manage a pine needle weevil attack and thin out the pest population. 

It can be stressful to notice browning needles and branches on your pine tree. But that symptom alone is no reason to assume the worst. Just in case, be sure to act as soon as you notice an issue to keep your tree as healthy as possible.

To learn more about common pine tree issues and how to identify and treat them, check out this video:

6 thoughts on “How To Treat A Pine Tree That Is Turning Brown?”

  1. I have a pine tree that is about 3yrs old. I went away on vacation for 10 days and when I returned the tree had brown needles. Before this the tree was healthy. I live in AZ and it is the middle of summer and hot temperature. What can I do to save this tree.


    • I really wish I could know what to do, but I wonder the same thing, stuck in a drought currently without rain, does putting it in the sun and giving it good water perhaps help it?

  2. My Limber Pine Vanderwolf’s Pyramid is 2yrs 5′ and gradually it started on the top of the tree turning brown the next few days the entire half of the tree is now brown. What can I do to save our tree?
    Thank You,

    • I have a tree seedling, it is brown on the top during an annoying drought with absolutely no rain, and has been fast, needing sunlight or water, or what, what kind of substances do you recommend to help reverse this damage before it turns all brown. I helped the poor thing and it was planted in someone’s memory.


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