How to Tell if a Blue Spruce is Dying

Blue spruce trees are one of the most valued trees in Michigan and the upper Midwest. The trees have so much to offer for landscaping, thanks to their aesthetic appeal. In addition to that, the trees play a significant role in improving the microclimate of an area.

Besides all the benefits, Michigan spruce trees face a wide range of challenges. These include diseases, pests, and adverse weather conditions that cause blue spruce trees to die. For that reason, it’s essential to learn how to tell if your blue spruce is dying or not. Here’s what to look out for:

Needles Turn Yellow or Brown and Drop Off

It’s easy to tell whether your blue spruce trees are healthy or not. When you see that needles on many branches on the tree are turning yellow or brown, you should know that your tree is not well. The needles may eventually drop-off. Rhizosphaera needle cast may be the cause and can kill the tree in three or four years.

However, the disease is manageable if detected early. When you see such symptoms appear on your trees, you should contact a trusted arborist to help you save the trees. The disease spreads fast, and treating it early using the right fungicides can be of great help.

Drying and Dying of Lower Branches

When you see lower branches of a blue spruce drying and dying, you should expect the worst. The main cause of drying of lower branches is cytospora canker. The fungus behind the disease lives under the bark and destroys vessels that supply nutrients and water to the branches.

When nutrients and water supplies are cut, the branches will dry out and eventually die. The condition worsens with time and moves up the tree. The tree will die after several years. White sap on the branches or trunk is another indicator of the disease.

This fungal disease affects mature Michigan spruce trees, mostly those older than 15 years. The disease is common when trees are planted too close to each other. Also, high moisture can stress trees which in turn make the trees weak and they will be more susceptible to disease.

Cytospora canker has no cure, but you can manage it through pruning. When pruning, you have to disinfect the pruning knife and the pruning cuts. Also, you have to get rid of the infected branches and needles in the right way as they may carry the fungus spores. You can also remove the infected trees and replace them with a different kind.

Dying of New and Emerging Shoots

When you see emerging shoots on the blue spruce tree die, know that your tree is on the verge of dying. Dying of new shoot is mainly caused by tip blights, mostly Phomopsis tip blight. The disease targets new shoots causing them to curl, turn pink, then brown and eventually drop off.

You can do some tests to know if your tree has this disease. You have to cut a section of the bark with a sharp knife, and if you see cankers in the exposed area, then the tree is infected by Phomopsis tip blight. In addition to that, the tree can have sunken areas on the trunk that ooze resin. The disease can cause dying, though it’s not a death sentence for the tree.

Knowing how to tell if a blue spruce is dying or not is essential. When you detect some of the symptoms early, you can sometimes save your spruce trees. However, you need professional help to treat some of the diseases that kill spruce trees. On the other hand, if the trees can’t be saved, you can replace them with a different kind. Contact us today to discuss your spruce trees, and together we can find a solution to your conifer landscape.