The Q&A Archives: One half of Alberta Spruce is dying

Question: I have 2 dwarf alberta spruce trees that are 2 years old. The first winter that I had them, part of them browned, but in the spring they both greened up and looked fine. This last winter one was almost completely brown from the top to the bottom on approximately 1/3 of the tree. This spring, the rest of the tree has new growth and looks fine, but the browning on the other part has not changed. The needles have completely fallen off of this part. My other spruce, which is about 15' from the brown one is doing fine. Any ideas? I also have a shademaster locust tree that did fine the first year, but now it only has leaves on a small part of it, from the bottom of the trunk to about 1/3 of the way up one side of the tree. Is this pretty much a goner? I do not have the best soil--it is mostly clay. thanks

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I am not certain what has happened to your trees. The spruce might be suffering from a disease or from an insect such as mites, or it maybe related to winter sun scald damage or damage due to de-icing salts or herbicide contact or something like that. The locust sounds as though it may have suffered dieback, possibly due to poor rooting or over or underwatering or a poorly drained site. It is very difficult to diagnose this type of symptom long distance because there are so many different potential causes. If the trees are under warranty, I would strongly suggest you consult with your local professionally trained nursery staff and/or your county extension to try to determine what is happening to them and based on knowing that, how to proceed. I'm sorry about your trees.

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