Don’t Panic, This is Perfectly Normal

And now a break from our house plant discussion, to mention something else.

Last Friday, when I showed the photo of the Fiddle-leaf Fig, sharp eyed viewers may have noticed something from the window behind the fig. There was something that looked like straw out that window.


Here it is for those of you that were too busy looking at the fig. Yes, this is my back lawn–under a bed of pine needles.


Here are some shrubs, under the same bed of those same needles.

What on earth is happening? Are all my pine trees dying?

Well, thankfully not, although you wouldn’t know it from the needle drop. This happens to evergreens, more or less (this year it’s more) every autumn. I suspect the needle drop is heavier because we had a very wet spring, summer and fall; therefore there are more needles to drop.

All evergreens, both broadleaf (hollies, rhododedrons, mahonias and the like) and needled drop a portion of their foliage every autumn. It’s just that in some years, that “drop” is much more pronounced than in others. And if the “drop” is particularly heavy–or if you are new to gardening or new to a particular type of evergreen, this may be new to you. Don’t panic–it’s okay.

If you are concerned that something is NOT normal, by all means, take a branch or small piece (in a sealed plastic bag) in to your nearest garden center or cooperative extension service. They should be able to tell you whether what’s going on is normal for your plant, or if you have an issue that needs addressing.


But if you have a tree that looks like this, don’t worry–’tis the season!

4 thoughts on “Don’t Panic, This is Perfectly Normal

  1. tonytomeo November 10, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Many of my clients want evergreens instead of deciduous trees because they believe that they do not drop foliage. I must explain that not only do they drop foliage, but most drop foliage through a longer season. Southern magnolias are always dropping something. The redwoods are dropping their foliage not. That is a LOT of foliage.

  2. gardendaze November 10, 2018 / 10:19 am

    And perish the thought that they ask for a larch–do you have them out there? We have one by our office. By now, it’s almost completely bare–& I have to explain to folks that no, this is perfectly normal. This is a tree that looks like an evergreen but yet sheds all its needles in the fall.


  3. The Chatsworth Lady November 10, 2018 / 12:12 pm

    Thank goodness! Last week I noticed that the two big pines in my backyard were now bicolored (green and yellow) and had more than a few fraught visions of them denuding themselves over the upcoming months! *whew*

    • gardendaze November 10, 2018 / 1:14 pm

      I think our very wet summer made this year’s needle drop far more noticeable than usual.

      It can be really troubling to see though!


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