Bare branches on the inside of your aging fir tree are normal. You’ve had that beautiful pine tree for over 25 years, and it towers over your yard, providing shade and privacy. But lately, you’ve become worried about it. The inner part of the tree looks awful. No needles. Just bare branches. Is it sick? Should you remove it?
If you see any new growth in the form of lighter-color needles on the tips of other branches, put that chainsaw back in the garage. The chances are good that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your tree. Older needles toward the center of the tree naturally turn brown and fall off as the tree ages. Those inner bare branches are no cause for concern, and the tree does not replace those needles. It is receiving plenty of nourishment from the healthy, green outer needles and, with the showing of new growth at the tips, that tree will continue living a healthy, long life. The timing of this new “inner bald” look depends upon the type of fir tree, but they all eventually go through this.
If an entire branch is bald, go ahead and prune it away, if you wish, but don’t cut it flush against the trunk of the tree. And, once it’s down, remove it. Dead branches invite insects who might decide to take over the entire tree.
An ill evergreen will not show new growth—no light green needle growth and no buds—and it will likely show the outer needles turning brown and falling off. This could be due to stress, like drought or flooding, or disease, usually spread by insects.
Like the short-needled Scots pine, some trees can get a blight disease, which is a fungus. These trees can be saved with quick action. You’ll notice needles are brown on the outer tip but green at their base. Other fungi also can cause needle browning, but the right fungicide can turn things around. These symptoms are a call to contact a professional tree expert or arborist. Trees are generally hardy, and they are an investment in your property. It’s well worth a house call before you make a decision you’ll regret and try to replace that 25-year-old pine beauty growing on your property.
Posted on February 13, 2021
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