dieing everygereens

Asked June 25, 2013, 9:13 PM EDT

We have two-we think blue spruce-about 40 ft. high-the lower branches seem to be
dieing and have lost their needles.About ten feet up.
Do you think they can be saved or are they too far gone.
We appreciate any info or remedies you can suggest to stop or cure this affliction.
Submitted with great respect for your position and expertise

Thank you very much---Ras.

Oakland County Michigan trees and shrubs

1 Response

Over the last couple of years spruce have been hit hard by a combination of diseases. If you want to try to save your spruces, it is very important to know exactly which of these diseases is attacking your trees. There are chemical treatments for some of the diseases. I suggest that you have a certified arborist inspect your trees and determine the cause of the needle loss. Then you can determine the best way to proceed. You can find a certified arborist at this website.


When you get to the site, click on “Find a Tree Care Service” at the top of the homepage. You can then search for a certified arborist in your area by inputting your postal zip code. Some arborist will make an initial visit at no charge. Others charge for this initial consultation.

If you are interested in learning more about the most common diseases that attack spruce, I am including some additional information.

Cytospora Canker: This disease does not kill the plant outright, but it does kill branches, usually near the base of the tree first. As the disease progresses, death moves up the tree. You will usually see a bluish-white resin on the trunk or possibly the branches. There are no effective chemical controls for this disease. It is important to prune out and destroy branches with cankers. It is also important to keep the tree as healthy as possible by watering during dry periods. The following site has excellent photos that will help you to identify this disease. It also explains in more detail the steps that can be taken to control the disease.


Rhizosphaera Needle Cast: This disease tends to infect older (inner) needles first. The needles turn brown or purple and drop from the tree. If you have a good hand lens you can see the fruiting bodies on the needles. You can prevent new growth from infection by spraying with Chlorothalonil. Daconil 2787 is one brand. The application should be done when the new shoots are ½ to 1-1/2 inches long and again in 3 to 4 weeks when the shoots have fully expanded. Additional applications at 3 to 4 week intervals may be necessary. The following website gives more details and excellent photos.


Phomopsis : The initial symptoms are very subtle, just a slight discoloration of the needles. Eventually needles may turn brown or purple and drop. In the spring new shoots will expand and then rapidly wilt and die. Cultural control includes removing lower branches that are infected. These branches can be identified by the dead terminal buds. Also keeping the plant well watered during periods of drought is important. Benzamidole fungicides such as Cleary’s 3336 should be applied at bud break and at 3 week intervals until new shoots are fully developed and hardened off. More information and photos can be found at this website.


You may also want to visit the following website that contains the latest information from Michigan State University.


With any tree, good plant health care including; proper mulching, watering in times of drought, protection of the trunk and roots and in the cases of some fungal diseases keeping the needles dry, is important. A certified arborist could assess your site and make other recommendations regarding plant health care.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have additional questions please reply back. Thank you for using Ask an Expert.