Dying spruce trees

Asked November 3, 2013, 2:36 PM EST

These two spruces are about 15' fom each other, have lost their needles on lower half of tree over a period of 3 years, and are on a flat area that drains a slope from four condo units and their French drains and sump pump outflow pipes. In other words, damp but not "wet." Have lichens because on north side. Will re-needle? Will continue to de-nude and die?

New Castle County Delaware plant disease spruce spruce trees

1 Response


The photos you submitted show some dieback from the bottom up on your trees. This is usually an indication of a root problem. It appears that the trees were planted a bit deep, which may have put additional stress on the trees and their establishment. The past 6 months we have been subject to a great deal of fluctuation in moisture in northern Delaware, with rains coming heavy at times and leading to saturated soil. We also had a period of drought in September. The drain field adds to moisture when we get heavy rains. Evergreens also drop needles seasonally this time of year. You could dig down a bit around the base of the trees and check some of the roots to see if they are a good light color, or whether the roots are dark and show any rot. I would recommend that you re-evaluate the trees in the spring. Do not fertilize this season. The lichens on the trees are harmless and an indicator of good air quality.

Thank you for contacting Delaware Cooperative Extension,