Blue apruce

Asked June 14, 2017, 8:43 AM EDT

I have a blue spruce that I planted 7 years ago and the past 2 years it has been losing needles and looking sick mostly around the bottom half. Please let me know what to do.

Jefferson County Kentucky blue spruce

1 Response

Many Blue Spruce are stressed in Jefferson County. There are several issues that may be causing your spruce to lose needles, including disease.

Spruce lose needles as a natural part of growth. Old needles are discarded from the bottom and interior of the plant as it grows. Excessive needle loss can be due to changes in the environment such as water (too much, not enough) exposure to lawn chemicals (fertilizers or weed killers), construction or physical damage to the trunk. Correcting these stress factors can help stabilize the growth of the tree. Unfortunately, lost needles will not grow back.

Bagworms can eat the needles, causing the plant to look bare or "sickly" where the insects are feeding. These insects are visible now, so if you suspect your spruce may have bagworms this link will help you identify and control them: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/files/efpdf2/ef440.pdf

Diseases can also cause needle loss. Identifying the disease is the best way to proceed if a pathogen is involved. The following link discusses disease and stress issues of spruce and what can be done if the problem is quickly identified: http://plantpathology.ca.uky.edu/files/ppfs-or-w-24.pdf.

You are welcome to bring a sample into our office. We need a branch with both healthy and affected needles still attached to send to the lab. We can not do a plant autopsy so it's important we have a live sample. If we cannot ID the problem here we can send it on to the lab at no cost to you.


Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
502-569-2344
200 Juneau Drive

Louisville KY 40243