Blue Spruce Trees

Asked January 5, 2017, 10:22 AM EST

Good Morning! Last year I planted 3 blue spruce trees. All were doing well except in August 2 of the 3 trees started to turn brown and died. The 3rd tree is still thriving. At the time the 2 trees were showing distress I spoke to my local hardware who said to spray them for a fungus (which I did), they still died. I never saw a bug on them. So the enigma is why did 2 trees die and 1 live? Before I replace the trees in the same area, I would like to know if I should treat the soil first? Any help you can offer would be appreciated! With kind regards, Barbara Scudder

Chester County Pennsylvania

1 Response

I suspect the drought, which was severe in August. With three trees in the same general area, the roots were most likely competing for water. Any tree needs about 2 inches of water a week to survive. Also, blue spruce trees are native to a cold mountain climate with a dense snow pack. We have had little snow to melt into the water table. Also, we have had downpours instead of ground soaking rains.
I advise mulching with 2 inches of undyed wood chips under the remaining tree, and using a rain gauge to measure what water the tree is getting. Also, if you can create rain gardens nearby as catchments for the heavy water runoff, that will help direct the flow into the water table. Finally, in the blistering heat of last summer, the spruce may need extra water to get through.
If you want more detailed recommendations, you can contact a licensed arborist to look at your tree and also suggest what to plant that can tolerate the dry conditions we seem to be having in summer. You can find a licensed arborist by visiting the web page of the International Society of Arboriculture, and using their zip code finder.