The Q&A Archives: Brown Dying Needles On Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Question: I have recently planted 6 dwarf Alberta Spruce trees - approx 5 weeks ago. However 1 has all ready died and another is on the way. The needles first are turning light green to grey in color, then are turning brown and falling off. Then the whole tree is drying up. All of these are planted in a raised bed in top soil. All 6 have been watered the same (approx. every 3-4 days) and only 2 are dead or dying. I have sprayed for spider mites just in case but don't think that is the problem.

Do you think it is not enough water? Too much water or some other cause? I just don't know.They are all about 5 feet in height. I don't want to lose any more since they are $90.00 a piece. Do you have any solutions?

Answer: Wow - that is an investment you'll want to protect! If your part of OK is gripped in the current heat wave, I'm not surprised the trees (and you!) are stressed. Newly planted trees need even soil moisture throughout their first year to ensure they get well established. The key is to water soil to the point where it maintains a reasonable balance of moisture and air. Too much or too little water result in roots' inability to draw what the plants need. If you haven't already mulched the soil, apply a few inches of bark or other organic material. Contact the nursery that sold you the trees, and find out what their guarantee policy is. Since two out of the six are dying, there may be another problem that they can help you with.

As for mites, you can detect their presence with a magnifying glass. Check your trees regularly, since mites thrive in dry weather, and by the time you see symptoms (mottled, spotted, yellowing needles) a lot of damage has already occured. It's important to spray only if they're there. Best of luck!

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