Attached are pictures of the second Colorado Blue Spruce that I bought in the...

Asked May 7, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

Attached are pictures of the second Colorado Blue Spruce that I bought in the past 2 years, which have died of some type of fungus. Based on my limited research, I suspect it might be Rhizosphaeria needle cast. Bought the first tree 2 years ago, placed it in a sunny spot and noticed that within the first month, some needles on the tree turned brown. Had the tree replaced last year, with a healthy looking tree (had new growth on it) and planted it in the same spot as the old tree. After 6 months, the trees bottom branches looked sparse. In the ensuing 5 months, the needles have turned brown, fallen off, and have progressed up the tree. I have attached pictures of the tree in its current state. My questions are: is this a fungus, does the soil need to be treated once I dispose of the tree, any suggestions for a different type of tree to plant, and finally, can I replant in the same spot?

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

Your photo shows the needle loss on the lower branches around the base of the tree. Rhizosphaeria needle cast does not usually hit young trees. This disease can affect trees when they are about 10-15 years old. It sounds like your trees are not establishing themselves. Some reasons for decline are planting too deeply, soil compaction, poor drainage, drought,etc. See our publication for more information http://extension.umd.edu/node/6235
It would be helpful to look at our website for planting information (see the planting process) and maintenance http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/selection-purchasing-planting-and-care

We would not recommend planting another blue spruce. They are not really well suited for our area as they are native to climates further to the north. You do not need to treat the soil. You can plant in the same area as long as you remove all of the root system. You did not mention if you want an evergreen or deciduous tree. Also, the mature height and width of the tree is needed. It may be helpful to call and discuss with a horticulture consultant for more information M-F from 8-1 at 1-800-342-2507.
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