Fraser Fir Needles

Asked September 8, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

We had 3 Fraser Fir trees planted in May. They seem to be doing okay, except that one, which has longer needles than the others, and seems to have drooping branches, periodically, is experiencing other problems. We noticed, the last two nights, that, around the back of it, there are large amounts of needles lying on the ground. When we shake the tree, needles do not fall off, even though we've shaken the trees, several times. My husband is diligent with watering these trees, usually twice a week, so they don't seem to be too unhealthy. The one tree, though, is concerning us. Why are we seeing so many large amounts of needles lying on the ground?

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response


Most trees will undergo some amount of stress when transplanted. Consistent watering will help minimize this stress. As your message stated you have been following this practice but do not over water, one inch of water per week is sufficient. Also when trees are under stress refrain from fertilizing, this only adds to the problem.
Make sure your tree is draining properly. If water is not draining properly excess water pooling will only damage the root system and root rot will eventually occur if not corrected. This could also contribute to the issue of the branches drooping. Dig down about 6 inches and if the soil is moist you’re good. Fraser firs also grow best in acidic soils with a ph of 6.0 or below.
Fraser firs are subject to spider mites and aphids along with some needle cast disease but I cannot make any determination from the pictures. As I try to zoom in on the needles it appears that there may be some brown to black banding which may be mite damage but again I cannot not make any proper diagnosis.
You may want to contact a certified arborist in your area. To find one in your area go to the following website. Click on the link ‘how to find an arborist’ and use your zip code.

You can also send a sample to the MSU diagnostic lab. To get further information on how to send in a sample you can use web site or call them at (517) 355-4536 and ask how to send in a sample. They may need part of branch with needles that are browning.

MSU Diagnostic Lab

I have included the following information on Fraser firs that you may find helpful.
Needle shedding in conifers:

If you have any other question please don't hesitate to write back.