The Q&A Archives: Dying Weeping Norway Spruce

Question: I planted a 5' Weeping Norway Spruce about two months ago in front of my house. The tree is shielded from the sun for most of the day, but gets late afternoon direct light. Over the past 3-4 weeks, it has started to drop its needles at a very fast rate and is quickly becoming bare and looks to be dying. What could be the problem? How much water do these trees typically require? Is it too late to transplant it and try another location?

Answer: Based on your description it's difficult to tell whether your tree is suffering transplant stress or some sort of pest problem. Transplanting at the height of summer is not usually a good idea, especially if a tree is already in distress. Since summer weather is very hard on newly planted trees, you need to pay particular attention to watering. The best method is to water deeply and slowly on a regular basis, being sure the water penetrates the original root ball as well as the surrounding soil where the roots should be moving outward into it. Sometimes the nursery soil immediately around the roots dries out faster than the surrounding native soil, so you really need to check the soil with your finger and perhaps dig down a bit with a shovel to see if it is wet or dry; in any case the soil should be evenly moist yet not dripping wet. The actual amount you need to apply will depend on the soil type and on how much rainfall there has been. A few inches of organic mulch will also help to conserve soil moisture.

Having said that, you might want to contact the place where you bought your tree to discuss its care and condition, especially if it is under a garantee. Good luck with your tree!

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