Arborvitae: Shoot tip dieback

categories: Arborvitae Arborvitae Diseases Conifers Ornamentals

revision date: 2023-02-07 12:00

Brown tips of Arborvitae leaves indicating shoot tip dieback.
Shoot tip dieback on arborvitae
Photo by: R.S. BytherPhoto by: R.S. Byther


Dieback observed on arborvitae is often caused by cultural or environmental factors rather than pathogenic diseases or insect infestations. Extensive foliar dieback of arborvitae suggests that the site is less than optimal for the growth of these plants. They require excellent soil drainage as well as air circulation around the foliage in order to thrive. When soils are saturated, roots become rotten and are unable to absorb sufficient water and nutrients for healthy plant growth. Poor foliar color and dieback often occur as a response to this limited uptake of water and nutrients. Excessive moisture on the foliage can promote dieback and can aggravate other problems.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Do not plant arborvitae into poorly draining soils. Improve drainage when possible.
  • Avoid overwatering plants by watering deeply but infrequently. During dry summer months, allow the soil to drain and dry out between waterings.
  • Avoid conditions that promote long moist foliage conditions such as overhead watering, evening watering, and planting too close to a fence. Give plant adequate spacing.
  • Remove plant debris and bark dust from under plants to reduce humidity and improve air circulation around the plant. Prune plant to promote good air circulation around the foliage and to remove dead foliage detracting from the appearance of the plant.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • None recommended