Do Coniferous Plants Change Color – Learn About Conifer Color Change

conifer color
conifer color
(Image credit: Argument)

When you hear the word “conifer,” odds are you also think evergreen. In fact, a lot of people use the words interchangeably. They’re not really the same thing, though. Only some evergreens are conifers, while most conifers are evergreens…except when they’re not. If a plant is evergreen, it retains its foliage all year long. Some conifers, however, experience a color change and leaf drop every year. Still, some other conifers, while “evergreen,” are not green all year long. Keep reading to learn more about conifers that change color.

Autumn Color Changing in Conifer Plants

Do coniferous plants change color? Quite a few do. Even though evergreen trees don’t lose all their needles in the fall, they don’t have the same needles for their whole lives. In autumn, most coniferous trees will shed their oldest needles, usually the ones closest to the trunk. Before dropping, these needles change color, sometimes impressively. The old needles of red pines, for instance, will turn a deep copper color before falling, while white pines and pitch pines take on a lighter, golden color. Changing conifer colors can also be the sign of total needle drop. While that may sound scary, for certain trees it’s simply a way of life. Though they’re in the minority, there are several deciduous conifers out there, such as the tamarack, bald cypress, and the larch. Just like their broad-leafed cousins, trees change color in the fall before losing all their needles.

More Conifers That Change Color

Conifer color change isn’t limited to the autumn. Some color changing in conifer plants takes place in the spring. The red-tipped Norway spruce, for example, puts out bright red new growth every spring. Acrocona spruce produces stunning purple pine cones. Other conifers start green in the spring, then change to yellow in the summer. Some of these varieties include:

  • “Gold Cone” juniper
  • “Snow Sprite” cedar
  • “Mother Lode” juniper
Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.