The Q&A Archives: Top Dying on Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Question: I have an established Dwarf Alberta Spruce that is turning
brown and dying from the top down. The problem began
in the winter and has accelerated this spring. I have
found no insects on the plant and the remaining part of
the plants appears healthy. I have removed the dead
portions twice and it continues to die. I this is a disease
will it spread to other nearby plants? If I can halt the
problem will the plant regrow a top?

Answer: Top dieback is usually a signe of a borer infestation. Other sypmtoms are "sawdust" or holes visible in the wood. Also check for swellings, cracks, or other symptoms of damage/disease that might interfere with the movement of water to the top of the tree. You'll need to remove the borer/canker/gall from the tree and train a new branch to a stake, so it can become the central leader of the tree. If none of these ideas cover your situation, have a professional consultation.

It may also be that the tree roots are outgrowing the space they're in, but that usually causes general dieback of all branches, not just the top. Best of luck!

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