Why Do Evergreen Trees Turn Yellow? Unveiling the Science Behind Their Surprising Transformation

Evergreen trees are known for their lush green foliage that provides a vibrant and refreshing appearance throughout the year. However, there are times when these seemingly eternal trees can exhibit a change in color, and a common concern among tree enthusiasts is whether evergreens can turn yellow. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind such color changes and shed light on the science behind the phenomenon.

Understanding Evergreen Trees

Before addressing the question of whether evergreen trees can turn yellow, it is important to understand the nature of these trees. Evergreen trees are characterized by their ability to retain their foliage throughout the year, unlike deciduous trees, which shed their leaves during certain seasons. This unique adaptation allows evergreens to photosynthesize and perform essential metabolic processes even in harsh winter conditions.
The green color of evergreen trees is primarily due to chlorophyll, a pigment responsible for capturing sunlight and converting it to energy through photosynthesis. Chlorophyll gives the leaves their characteristic green hue and masks other pigments present in the foliage. However, there are situations where evergreen trees may exhibit a change in color, including the appearance of a yellow tint.

Causes of yellowing in evergreens

While evergreen trees are known for their resilience and ability to retain their green color, several factors can contribute to the yellowing of their foliage. Understanding these causes is critical to properly addressing any concerns related to the health and appearance of your evergreen trees.

A common cause of yellowing in evergreens is nutrient deficiency. Like all plants, evergreens require a balanced supply of essential nutrients to maintain their health and vitality. Inadequate levels of nutrients such as nitrogen, iron or magnesium can lead to chlorosis, a condition characterized by yellowing or whitening of the foliage.
Another factor that can contribute to yellowing in evergreens is environmental stress. Evergreens are adapted to specific environmental conditions, and any significant deviation from their ideal habitat can cause stress and subsequent color changes. Factors such as extreme temperature fluctuations, drought, excessive moisture, or poor soil conditions can all lead to yellowing of the foliage.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Yellowing Evergreens

Diagnosing the cause of yellowing in evergreens is critical to implementing effective treatment measures. If you notice yellowing foliage on your evergreen trees, it is important to assess the overall health of the tree and consider any recent changes in environmental conditions.

One of the first steps in diagnosing yellowing evergreens is to examine the foliage for signs of pests or disease. Certain insect infestations or fungal infections can cause discoloration and damage to the leaves. Identifying and treating such problems promptly can help restore the trees’ vigor and color.
In cases where nutrient deficiencies are suspected, a soil test can provide valuable insight into the nutrient composition and pH of the soil. Based on the results, appropriate fertilization strategies can be implemented to correct any deficiencies and restore the green color of the foliage.

Preventing Yellowing in Evergreens

Prevention is often the best approach when it comes to maintaining the health and vibrancy of evergreen trees. By implementing certain practices, you can minimize the risk of yellowing and promote the longevity of your trees.

First and foremost, proper soil preparation is essential. Evergreen trees thrive in well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Conducting a soil analysis and amending the soil accordingly can provide an optimal growing environment for your evergreens.

Regular watering is also critical to the health of evergreen trees. Adequate moisture levels help prevent stress and maintain the green color of the foliage. However, it is important to maintain a balance and avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other problems.
Finally, proper nutrition through regular fertilization is key. Consult with a horticulturist or tree specialist to determine the specific nutrient needs of your evergreens and develop a fertilization schedule that meets their needs.

Bottom line

While evergreens are known for their green foliage, yellowing is not uncommon. Nutrient deficiencies, environmental stressors, pests and diseases can all contribute to the change in color. By understanding the causes of yellowing and taking appropriate preventative and treatment measures, you can ensure the long-term health and beauty of your evergreens. Regular monitoring, proper care, and timely intervention are essential to maintaining the vibrant green canopy that evergreens are known for.


Do evergreen trees turn yellow?

Yes, evergreen trees can turn yellow, but it is not a common occurrence. Evergreen trees are known for retaining their green foliage throughout the year, hence the name “evergreen.” However, there are several reasons why an evergreen tree may turn yellow.

What are the possible reasons for evergreen trees turning yellow?

There are several potential reasons for evergreen trees to turn yellow. One common cause is nutrient deficiency, particularly a lack of iron or magnesium. Other factors include water stress, such as overwatering or drought, pests or diseases, environmental stressors like extreme temperatures or pollution, and natural aging or needle shedding.

How can nutrient deficiencies cause evergreen trees to turn yellow?

Nutrient deficiencies can cause yellowing in evergreen trees because certain minerals, like iron and magnesium, are essential for chlorophyll production. Chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for the green color in foliage. When these nutrients are lacking, chlorophyll production decreases, leading to yellowing or discoloration of the needles or leaves.

Can yellowing evergreen trees be treated?

Yes, yellowing evergreen trees can often be treated, depending on the underlying cause. If the yellowing is due to a nutrient deficiency, applying the appropriate fertilizer or soil amendments can help correct the issue. Proper watering practices, pest control measures, and providing optimal growing conditions can also aid in treating yellowing evergreens. However, it’s important to identify the specific cause before attempting any treatment.

Are there any evergreen tree species that naturally have yellow foliage?

Yes, there are some evergreen tree species that naturally have yellow foliage. These trees are known as “golden evergreens” or “yellow evergreens.” They have yellow or golden-colored needles or leaves as part of their normal appearance. Some examples include the Golden Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chirimen’) and the Golden Korean Fir (Abies koreana ‘Aurea’). It’s important to distinguish between these naturally yellow evergreens and those that have turned yellow due to stress or other factors.