Ask Burton: This week, a mention of a common issue we’ve been hearing a lot of, lately. Q: I have new Eastern red cedars which are turning an odd color right now – the leaves are still pliable, but it’s getting darker colored, almost grey or reddish-brown in some places. Not all of my red cedars are doing this – I have a number of them on my property but it’s sporadically happening along my row. Is there something I can do to fix this?

A: Happily, no fix is necessary. Many plants show a bronzing of foliage when they’re exposed to cold. Eastern red cedars color this way, and it’s variable from individual plant to plant because they are often seedling-grown as opposed to being identically grown from cuttings.  The soil moisture and wind exposure in each individual spot also has a role to play. This color change happens with other species as well, but Eastern red cedars are the one we’re asked this question most often about. Just feed the plants normally this March. They’ll be fine.


Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.